When lunch time rolls around at my house, there is a general cry of excitement and a rush to the kitchen. No, it’s not because of my gourmet peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. And no, it’s not because I forgot to feed my kids breakfast. (Well, at least most of the time!)
It’s because lunch time means Cyberchase, which is what my kids get to watch while they eat.
We don’t watch a lot of TV in my house, but I do think there’s value in certain types of programming in small doses. Cyberchase fits my definition of something worth watching.
Quick summary (thanks Wikipedia!): Cyberchase is an PBS animated series about three children who leave Earth and enter “Cyberspace,” which is an alternate universe with planet-like bodies called cybersites. These kids, along with the help of Digit (who is a bird-like cyborg), use their math and problem solving skills to stop the evil deeds of the Hacker and his two cyborg henchmen, Buzz and Delete. Each episode focuses on one math or problem solving skill (such as probability or graphing) and builds comprehension of that skill through increasingly difficult applications.
That descriptions a little dense–so trust me, the show is awesome!
What I love about Cyberchase is that it focuses on teaching math first and entertaining second. While each episode is very entertaining and my kids are engrossed, the math isn’t glossed over. The math concept that is the focus of each episode is carefully woven into the plot so that it is central to the solution of the storyline. This is math in full color–living and breathing–just the way it should always be. (Because Pepper has watched this show off and on over the years, there have been many times where I have introduced a new math idea, and she already gets it because she saw it on Cyberchase first.)
Even better, each 30-minute episode has been posted on a YouTube channel (with permission!) so we can watch it for FREE. And we don’t even have to worry about loading each 10-minute segment. They just play one right after another. (But don’t get distracted because the kids will just keep watching and watching and watching!)
Right now, we’re just working our way through the episodes. But time after time, I find myself referencing an episode’s concept as I talk about math throughout the day with my kids. And in the future, as I want to bring up these concepts again, I think I’ll replay certain episodes to refresh their memories.
If you want to watch the episodes in order, check out the Wikipedia list of episodes, that includes a plot summary and a description of the math concept that the episode focuses on.
You can find all the episodes here on YouTube.
See you in Cyberspace!