Do you use videos and documentaries in your homeschool? I love educational programs, because more often that not, they teach more in half an hour than I ever could! This month, we were sent some really fun educational DVDs from Curiosity Quest. We received the DVD Combo Pack – Produce, with episodes about Cranberries, Oranges, and Mushrooms, and DVD Combo Pack – Swimmers of the Sea, with episodes about Sea Turtles, Penguins and Salmon.
In each video, the host. Joel, takes a question sent in by a child, and then heads off to location to answer it.
You get to see Joel talking to whoever is teaching him about the topic, and video of the location. There aren’t any graphics or animation, which I think is really nice. They let the topic speak for itself, and have beautiful shots of the orchards, and the sea turtles, and the salmon swimming in the stream.
During the video, the show cuts to kids on the street who try to answer questions about the topic at hand, like “what do penguins eat” and “why don’t penguins fly.” After the kids try their hand at the answers, the host lets the expert answer the question.
Joel has a very engaging, cheerful personality, and he also has a bit of a “cool guy” air to him which really appealed to my 8 year old son. It’s hard to get him to want to sit to watch documentaries, but this show didn’t talk down to him, nor was it dry. It made us all laugh, and kept all of us interested!
Penguins: Curiosity Quest heads to the Aquarium of the Pacific to visit the penguin keepers there to learn about them.
One of the most interesting things we learned in the Penguin video is that penguins go through a “catastrophic molt” once a year, where they have to regrow ALL their feathers (and they have 100 per square inch!). It’s a little stressful for the birds, and they have to eat a lot more during this molt.
Sea Turtles: Curiosity Quest heads to a Turtle Hospital in Florida to learn all about turtles and how they are rehabilitated.
When Mom turtles lay their eggs, they return to the same beach where they were hatched, no matter how far away it is, to lay their eggs. Baby sea turtles have the yolk sack still attached when they are hatched, and it stays with them for a while, and they continue to draw nutrition from it. How neat is that!
Salmon return to the stream they were born in to lay eggs, because the imprint on the place. The smell is what guides them. Even though Salmon live in the ocean, most salmon prefer to spawn in fresh water.
Mushrooms: Curiosity Quest visits Monterrey Mushrooms in California
Mushrooms are grown from a fungus that is on a grass seed, which is then put in a growing medium. Mushrooms grow a huge amount over night, so pickers come in each day to allow more space for other mushrooms to grow in the same dirt.
Oranges: Curiosity Quest goes to see how oranges are grown, picked and packed in California.
Did you know that oranges are still picked by hand, because you have to be very, very careful with them? Even a small dig, or bruise can cause them to go bad and start to rot. Oranges are sprayed with chlorine, inspected under a black light, treated with antibiotics if needed, waxed and dried, and packed with care so they can make it to the grocery store in perfect condition.
Cranberries: Curiosity Quest heads to the biggest fresh cranberry grower in the United States.
Cranberries don’t actually grow IN a bog, they grow on a vine like any other plant. Farmers flood the fields, because the cranberries actually have 4 air filled compartments in them, which help them float. The bogs make the berries float to the top, so the machines can harvest them easily from the vines without damaging the plants. The plans will grow back the next year, and not need replanted.
This isn’t a high production show, but it is extreme well done. I love how Joel is able to lead such interesting conversations with the people he is visiting, and he has a wonderful knack at breaking down information into easy to understand concepts. Watching the episodes feels a little bit like you are tagging along on a field trip! Bug and Mr. Man have been brainstorming their own questions to send in to Curiosity Quest!
I really like these, and hope they come out with more combo disk sets, because they are the best deal on their website at $24.95 each for the 3 episodes