Cyberchase Season 11

Ages: 6 - 8Producer: Thirteen/WNET

Since the PBS series premiered in 2002, Cyberchase has focused on a battle royale raging in a digital universe called Cyberspace. Earth kids Matt, Jackie and Inez fight evil villain Hacker and the kids’ weapon of choice is good ol’ fashioned mathematics. They demonstrate plenty of higher-order thinking skills as they analyze and evaluate problems, then “think on their feet” to create solutions. The kids accomplish it all with the help of Motherboard, the Supreme Ruler of Cyberspace, and a bevy of other Cybercitizens who inhabit a variety of history- or geography-inspired Cybersites.

One of those Cybersites is an underwater world called Mermaidos where its fishy inhabitants are endangered by rising water temperatures. The CyberSquad tracks the temperature and uses logic to determine the source of the problem: Hacker was blocking the cold water flow as part of a plot to make Mermaidos his personal hot tub. In another episode, titled “A Reboot Eve to Remember,” Hacker steals a town’s power source but the kids realize wind power will work, too, and they engineer a giant windmill to foil Hacker’s plan.

Each episode includes a live-action titled segment “Cyberchase For Real,” which suggests a project that requires real-world math applications. After an episode titled “Creech’s Creature Quandary,” in which a proposed bike path threatens to displace the region’s creatures, the live-action sequence features a tween and his mom on a birding expedition. The boy uses his cell phone to chart the number and types of birds he’s seen at various locations.

Cyberchase is recommended for kids aged 6 – 8 and it’s true that the art direction, plots, and character will appeal to that age range. The math may occasionally reach beyond younger kids’ level of understanding but the larger message is always clear: When it comes to problem-solving, observation, logic, and the scientific method, all explained in the language of math, can save the day.

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.