Thursday we set off to visit my family in the far reaches of Ohio which from coming from the hustle and bustle of the east coast often feels like moving to a different (and not altogether bad) planet. The life forms are a little different and things move at a different pace. So, for our intergalactic journey we took along the Zula Patrol: Explore Space! DVD. I settled down in the back of the earth roving Odyssey with my 4 and 7 year old and we were off for our trip through space.
From my captain's chair I watched the spacey cartoon characters tell my kids about moons probes and astronaut training. I thought the brightly colored characters did a great job of conveying a consistent message about the subjects in a fun way. Each section had a few main points such as: moons are also called satellites and they orbit around their planet. The tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them and tell them what you told them formula was used well to drive home those points. I thought it was a good mix of scientific facts and fun for kids. It was particularly fun for us when there was a thank you message to Goddard Space Flight Center for some space footage, that is where Gman spends his days getting paid to do space-stuff. Similarly we have friends who work on other NASA related projects and have sent probes to far off planets. (To give you some perspective on Gman and his long time love affair with space, when he and his first wife split he left with the clothes out of his closet and his telescope.)
While I thought the cartoon was fun and a good mix of the scientific on a level that kids 4-7 could grasp, Gman wasn't quite so enamoured. He didn't like that while the cartoon about the moon talked about the moons and their orbits it depicted the moons flying through space to get to the "moon wash." For him the cartoon story got in the way of the scientific fact so it might not be the DVD for a budding rocket scientist. I am a little more forgiving, it is teaching some basic facts about space and astronomy while holding kids attention by telling a fun story that they can follow.
Thanks to the folks at Parent Bloggers Network for letting us take this trip through space and our views on what kids should get out of educational videos. You can check out what other bloggers have to say about two Zula Patrol videos this one on space and another about weather over at the PBN site and you can order one or both of the videos at Border's. You can also check out the Zula website for additional information about the TV show, science center exhibits and co-lateral learning materials.