Judge Lacey Worrell makes no guarantees that your child will not decide to become an underwater welder after viewing this excellent kids' DVD.
Set sail for big adventure on the high seas with our fearless team of PMK hosts!
Popular Mechanics for Kids: Super Sea Creatures and Awesome Ocean Adventures is one of those rare products aimed at kids that manages to educate but at the same time maintain a sense of fun and adventure. This long-running series has won multiple awards, has been recommended by Parents' Choice, and is a quality production overall. The scientific terminology, though heavily rooted in physics, is explained in simple language that does not condescend. Adults watching this with children may find explanations for concepts they themselves do not know, such as the workings of displacement and other scientific principles.
This DVD contains four episodes that focus on various aspects of oceanography. There is a healthy emphasis on conservation of natural resources as well as on the scientific principles behind simple water activities, such as floating and diving. The individual episodes are as follows:
• "In Deep Water": Host Tyler explores the similarities between how sharks and dolphins are trained, and discusses with engineers the complicated procedure of welding underwater in order to perform bridge repairs. There is also an exploration of the use of fiber optics in underwater communication. Perhaps the segment that will be of most interest to children is a behind-the-scenes tour of the world's only underwater hotel, where Tyler is left to figure out how to do simple tasks like taking out the trash when he is 23 feet below the surface of the water.
• "Ocean Adventures": Tyler, who has a certification in scuba diving despite his relative youth, explores an old shipwreck and also swims with sharks. Viewers are led through a detailed explanation of how scuba certification is achieved, from classroom lectures, to initial dives in swimming pools, to full open-water dives. This episode also features a company in Newfoundland that makes drinking water by harvesting icebergs; the formation of icebergs is explained, as well as the complicated process of breaking the icebergs into manageable pieces in order to make water out of them.
• "Aquariums": Host Elisha explores the care and feeding of sea lions in captivity, from feeding them fish, to brushing their teeth, to a particularly graphic segment on how mucus samples are taken in order to monitor the health of the sea lions. Popular Mechanics for Kids frequently employs the use of simple animated characters named Nix and Tix to explain complicated scientific principles; in this episode, Nix and Tix demonstrate how a fish breathes as well as giving pointers on successfully keeping fish as pets.
• "Amazing Sea Creatures": Where "Aquariums" focuses on sea life in captivity, "Amazing Sea Creatures" takes to the open water to explore life in the wild. Host Vanessa helps scientists to collect a sample of whale blubber, while Elisha and Tyler explore the legend of a sea monster (similar to the Loch Ness Monster) who is rumored to live in Quebec. Other segments include swimming with dolphins as well as a visit to a hospital for sea animals injured by boats and fishing nets.
When the hosts are described as "fearless," this is not an understatement. These kids not only narrate each segment with the ease and confidence of professionals, they are unafraid to leap into the water with sharks, scuba dive, or snorkel in what looks to be frigid water. They speak to the camera with ease and a contagious sense of enthusiasm that is sure to rub off on viewers both young and old. The terminology and vocabulary may lose the attention of the very young, but it is a credit to this series that it does not dumb down the language in order to win over viewers.
As in previous Popular Mechanics for Kids releases, fans of the television show 24 will recognize a preteen Elisha Cuthbert, and this DVD also features a very young Vanessa Lengies from the excellent NBC family drama American Dreams. The picture quality is about the same as one might experience viewing it on television; there does not appear to be a significant improvement over what one might expect on videotape, but the sound quality is remarkably good. There are no extras to be had, but considering the fairly generous running time of 92 minutes as well as the fact that this DVD contains four episodes of the show, you shouldn't be turned off by the lack of special features. There is plenty to keep children over the age of about eight or nine busy for hours, considering they may very well be inspired to try some science experiments of their own.
Given the professionalism of this production and the fact that it respects science while managing at the same time to demystify it, this DVD, or any of the other titles in the series, is an excellent investment. Kids will love it for the adventure factor, and parents can rest assured that while their children are being entertained, they are learning a great deal as well.
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