Cyberchase

Ages: 6 - 8Producer: Thirteen/WNET Rating: TV Y - All Children

Cyberchase, a cartoon tale of good vs. evil, pits three Earth kids against the villain Hacker. In short, Hacker wants to take over Cyberspace, a digital universe controlled by Motherboard, a computer who conjures up Mother Earth or Gaia or plain old Mom (although her patchwork face probably won’t remind you of anyone’s mother).

Hacker has two goofy sidekick robots. Motherboard’s main friend is Digit, a cybird who has a (somewhat odd) control/worship relationship with the computer. He loves her but also has to fix her when she needs a reboot.

Episodes usually revolve around a plot that has Hacker scheming to take control of Cyberspace by demolishing Motherboard. For example, in one episode about cyber waste, Hacker puts two big fans near two giant trash patches to blow them toward the Motherboard’s home and squash it. Cyberjunk is falling from the trash patches onto other cybersites along the way. It’s a big problem for everyone, and it offers a chance to send an eco-message to young viewers.

The Earth kids must come up with a problem-solving plan. They analyze the situation, discover a pattern to the problem, and work to figure out how to thwart Hacker. It’s admirable to see how they logically attack the mission and work together to help save the day. At the end they urge: “Recycle, reuse, throw away. We must all do our part. We have a problem that must be addressed. Throw away trash responsibly.”

Each episode includes with a live-action segment, Cyberchase for Real. It shows that kids can be “citizen scientists,” like the young girl who is helping scientists collect data about noise levels. It makes science seem so easy and fun, and like something everyone should do, which is exactly the message the show should be sending. This is the 12th season of Cyberchase and it seems as relevant and important as ever. Use your own analytical skills to think and solve problems — even in a world increasingly occupied by bots.

 

Ann Oldenburg ©2020 Parents’ Choice

Ann Oldenburg, lecturer and assistant director of the journalism program at Georgetown University, writes about television, food, workplace issues and other pop culture topics. A University of Florida Gator with a degree in journalism, she began her career at The Washington Post and spent more than two decades with USA TODAY. She and her husband have three sons and live in McLean, Virginia.

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