Science Shows, Old and New

I grew up with 3-2-1 Contact, remembered mostly to me as “that show with The Bloodhound Gang”, because everyone knew that was why you tuned in. (And, by the way, I am quite sadenned that searching for the actual show title by Googling “Bloodhound Gang” results in pages of links to a band which appears to be best known for a song called “Hooray for Boobies”, because the internet shouldn’t tarnish all my childhood memories.) After 3-2-1 Contact went off the air (and stopped publishing their very cool magazine…), I found Square One, which I watched way passed the intended age. Again, the end-of-the-show serial mysteries were the best. Mathnet ruled even more than the Bloodhound Gang (the Fibonacci sequence trumps moth-pheremone ghosts any day!) and I remember being unwarrantedly excited the time they had an episode-long mathnet special.
Being an adult, I don’t keep up on PBSs children’s offerings like I used to, but I somehow discovered that the latest show in the “TV for geek kids” genre is Cyberchase, and I decided to check it out. This show is great. Deviating from the standard science-for-kids format, instead of a melange of separate scenes, each episode is a half-hour cartoon with a coherent plot. In each one, three children are sucked into cyberspace to protect MotherBoard from the attacks of the evil villain Hacker (played by Christopher Lloyd). This usually requires solving various puzzles. The cool part – often the kids get the puzzles wrong, and time is spent showing the kids trying to talk out the answers, often with each taking a different approach. In the few episodes I’ve seen, the puzzles have covered basic math and logic, but also pulled in what I would consider computer science puzzles, such as require inductive breakdowns of the problem or considering alternate representations of the data.
Definitely check this show out if you’ve got kids. It’s just goofy enough to be fun for adults watching along as well. Tomorrow’s episode looks to be a fun one:

Double Trouble
Out for revenge, Hacker invades Shangri-La and imprisons Master Pi . The kids and Digit arrive as Hacker searches for the Good Vibration — the source of peace and happiness on the cybersite. Trouble doubles with unexpected results for the kids as well as Hacker, Buzz and Delete. Will the good vibrations continue, or will Hacker turn Shangri La into Shangri Blah?

There’s also a ton of games and puzzles on the show’s website. I liked making up little drum solos with Pattern Player.

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