Imagine a battle solved not by violence but by math and you have the basic premise of Cyberchase. In this long-running animated PBS series Earth teens Matt, Jackie, and Inez fight the good fight in a digital universe called Cyberspace. Hacker, the uber villain, craves power and devises evil plans to rule Cyberspace but the teens prove to be worthy foes.
In one episode, Hacker zaps away the mountain that provided shade for a community. As temperatures rise, the teens explore the relationships between sun, shade, and temperature, and they come up with ways to cool the exposed homes. Another episode focuses on water waste and uses simple math to show the cumulative benefits if everyone in the community changes daily habits to conserve one gallon of water per day. While the madcap toned episodes include plenty of zany elements, they also showcase the scientific method as the kids observe details, come up with theories, make estimates, and test solutions.
This series does its part to make math make sense. If there’s any drawback, it’s the occasional gap between the silliness of the series’ bells and whistles, and the sophistication of mathematics concepts it explores. However, on the many sides of “plus,” viewers of all ages get to see logic, reason, and evidence as the obvious way to approach problems, and math as the powerful tool to solve them.
Gina Catanzarite ©2018 Parents’ Choice
Gina Catanzarite is an award-winning television producer, writer, teacher, mom and media consultant in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She began her career in 1987 and counts 9 Emmy awards, 26 Emmy nominations, a Matrix award, two Pennsylvania Broadcaster’s Association Awards, 8 Telly Awards, and a screenwriting grant from the Theatre Association of Pennsylvania, among her professional honors.