Saturday, April 12, 2014

Curiosity Quest {Schoolhouse Crew Review}

It seems like all kids go through a highly curious sage where they ask, "Why?" multiple times a day. The Curiosity Quest show embraces that natural curiosity and endeavors to show the answers to all of those "Why?" and "How do they make...?" type questions.

We received two DVD sets from Curiosity Quest: DVD Combo Pack - Produce and DVD Combo Pack - Swimmers of the Sea. Together they contained six fabulous thirty-minute episodes. Each episode is filmed on location so that the audience gets a feel for what is really happening.

The Produce DVD contains episodes about mushrooms, oranges, and cranberries. Mushrooms are one of Lauren's favorite foods, and she was especially interested in learning how they were grown and shipped to grocery stores. We both found it interesting to see the mushrooms growing in their carefully controlled indoor environment. I learned that sometimes the only difference between smaller and larger varieties of mushrooms in the grocery store is the amount of time that they are allowed to grow.

The Swimmers of the Sea DVD includes episodes about sea turtles, penguins, and salmon. In this video, Joel Greene (the host) travels to an aquarium in California to learn about penguins, a turtle hospital in Florida to see rescued sea turtles, and a salmon hatchery in Alaska. Although they didn't show a map of these locations in the video, we can talk about the locations afterwards and count it as a geography lesson for the day.

These videos were perfect for Lauren to watch independently. While I was gone to an appointment one afternoon, I told Lauren to watch the cranberry video and to text me what she learned. When I got home, I finally figured out that cranberries go up an escalator as part of the packaging process. (Second grade spelling plus autocorrect don't always work well together.)

When she watched videos another day, she texted, "I learned that penguins don't fly because they are to heave [heavy]. And that they eat fish hole [whole]."

My only complaint about the Curiosity Quest videos was that most of the episodes had a segment where they interview various people and ask them to guess the answer to a question. For instance, in the episode about sea turtles, a question was asked about how much the largest sea turtle can weight. Lauren remembered one of the wrong guesses instead of the correct weight that was given immediately afterwards. It sometimes seemed like the facts were lost in the sea of incorrect guesses.

The Curiosity Quest show is aimed at children ages 7 to 14, but the information is detailed enough that adults will probably learn something while watching them. I was surprised at how much Lauren enjoyed these videos and how much she learned from them. She even told me that she'd be interested in watching them again so that she could learn more.

After watching the produce and swimming creatures videos, Lauren also told me that she'd like to see some episodes that showed how American Girl dolls or iPods are made. The Curiosity Quest store does offer DVDs featuring Legos, teddy bears, pianos, guitars, and other manufactured goods. I wonder if one of those would be good enough for her.

Because the two DVDs we reviewed were combo packs, they each cost $24.95. Curiosity Quest also offers many DVDs that only contain one episode, and those DVDs typically cost between $19.95. They also offer a monthly membership where you receive 2 DVDs each month for $19.99 (including shipping).

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