Posts Tagged ‘engineering’

A Three-Step Guide to Getting your Kids Watching Science Documentaries

April 27, 2012

Perhaps your children are different, but mine tend to prefer more straight-up entertainment when it comes to their TV watching.  The Amazing Race is about as close to a documentary as it comes.

If your kids are like mine, sometimes you need to connect the dots a bit in order to get them excited about more straight-up educational programming.  So here’s a little tip that might help out, courtesy of a couple of claymation features.  Here is my fool-proof three-step method:

Step 1: Take your kids to see The Pirates! Band of Misfits this weekend: The great team of animators at Aardman just released their latest.  Rotten Tomatoes is giving it a more-than-solid 87% fresh rating.  I hear it may not be their best, but it is still full of silly fun and wonderfully animated.  Seems like a great treat for children of all ages.

Step 2: Watch Wallace & Gromit at home: Let’s take for granted that your kids dig the movie.  Whenever that happens, my boys are always eager for more. Nick Park’s classic characters are still the cream of the crop for Aardman.  I would recommend the full-length feature Curse of the Were-Rabbit, an absolutely hysterical flick with the likes of Ralph Feinnes and Helena Bonham Carter joining the cast.  If you can’t find that movie, Netflix is streaming both the three original W&G short films, and the most recent, a half-hour feature called A Matter of Loaf and Death.  All are great fun and will likely hook your kids on both Aardman and the gang.

Step 3: Watch Wallace & Gromit’s World of Invention: Assuming your children are clamoring for even more W&G, it just so happens that just released on Blu-ray is the six-episode series that originally aired on BBC.  I got mine at Best Buy for $14, so it’s not a major investment.  It is a classic frame series, as W&G host a news show that sends viewers to segments done by real people.  The man-dog duo have some sort of classic invention-related gag in each episode, like feeding a pet elephant brussel to bring electricity to the studio through “wind power.”

The actual stories themselves are very well produced and interesting (though make sure to explain the difference between Celsius and Fahrenheit, as they don’t) .  I watched the one that looks at how people are taking designs from the natural world and shaping man-made inventions out of them.  From taking a page out of the manta ray for transportation to machines eating bugs for power, to a man who may have just figured out how to build Atlantis, it is a great way to see how nature, science, and engineering can work together to bring creative solutions.  And with an elephant fart joke built in, how can you go wrong?

So there you go.  I hope everyone has a great weekend, and if your child ends up becoming a great engineer due to my three-step program, remember I get dibs on the first flying car ride.