Friday, April 11, 2014

Schoolhouse Review: Curiosity Quest

My daughter Gess is a very curious little girl.  The fact that she has special needs makes me even more thrilled that she is always asking questions and trying to figure things out.  It sure makes it easier for me to teach her.  Lately she has been curious about the food that we eat.  We will be eating something and she will ask, "where did that come from?"  We then have the joy of explaining the method of how we get our food.  When its a fruit or vegetable that is fun.  When its meat, well, we try to be as accurate as possible without spoiling her dinner.  So when I saw that I had the opportunity to review some DVDs titled Curiosity Quest I knew that would be right up Gesserine's alley.  I was even more thrilled when some of them pertained to food!

For the purpose of my review I recieved the following DVDs from Curiosity Quest:

DVD Combo Pack - Produce - Mushrooms, Orange Packing, Cranberries
DVD Combo Pack - Swimmers of the Sea - Turtle Rescue, Penguins, Salmon Hatchery

These Combo Packs have 3 episodes on each DVD.  They are geared for children ages 7-14 and each individual episode is approximately 30 minutes in length.  Each show begins with the host Joel Greene reading a letter from a viewer with a question the topic is based off of.  He then takes you on a journey to find the answer.  To do this they usually tour some sort of facility that has specialists in the field to help them not only answer the questions, but actually see how it all works. They break through the tour a few times with little mini segments where they ask people on the street questions to test their knowledge on the subject or tell us some Fun Fact about it. 

Because of her fascination with food and where it comes from, Gess chose to start with the Produce video.  The first episode we watched was on Cranberries which is actually something we don't eat a lot of.  I wish it was cranberry season so I could have found her some fresh ones to try when we were done, but it was still fun to watch out of season. 

The letter that inspired this video was, "Dear Joel, I have seen an ad on T.V. for cranberries, and I was wondering why the men are standing in a lake full of them."  I have seen that ad and actually wondered the same thing myself, but not enough to ever go find out.  So this video was educational for both of us!  Not only do they explain why they are standing in the lake, it shows you the process on scene.  Joel himself gets to walk out in a lake full of cranberries.  The poor guy does it when its snowing! 

You then get to follow the cranberries from the lake, to the processing facility, all the way to the truck that takes them to the store.  At the end they eat at the center's restaurant where everything is flavored with cranberries, even the ketchup!

After watching the video we decided to explore cranberries some more at the store.  Since we didn't find any fresh ones we simply got dried and canned cranberries as well as cranberry juice.  Gess was disappointed that we couldn't find cranberry ketchup but she isn't giving up.  She still searches for it on the ketchup isle each time we go to the store.

Next we watched the Swimmers of the Sea.  We started with Salmon Hatchery and learned a very cool way to remember the types of salmon using our hand.  There are chum, sockeye, king, silver (or choho) and pink.  Watching how they raise and release salmon out into the wild was pretty fascinating.  Out of 125 million babies about 10% actually come back.  The process was simply amazing.  Gess' favorite fun fact was how a king salmon can weigh up to 100 pounds!

The Penguins episode was fun too.  Here they visited an Aquarium to watch penguins up close.  Each episode seems to have key words it defines.  This time it was husbandry.  Gess was surprised that it had nothing to do with marriage!  We also found it amusing how they get them to take their vitamins.

Then we went back to learning about produce again. The Orange Packing one was really interesting.  Did you know they have yet to invent a machine that can pick oranges better than man can?  I believe its the same with mushrooms too.  These guys are swift though, its incredible!  Joel found out it isn't as easy as it looks.

 We really liked how the bad oranges go into cattle feed so nothing ever gets wasted.  Gess favorite part was the end where they tell that silly knock knock joke.

Knock Knock
Who's There?
Banana Who?
Knock Knock
Who's There?
Banana Who?
Knock Knock
Who's There?
Orange Who?
Orange you glad I didn't say banana?!

Gess is a knock knock joke nut and has told this one a million times.  Now she was reminded to tell it again for several days.  Thanks for that!

The episode Mushrooms was really fascinating to me.  I never really thought about how you would actually farm mushrooms.  You learn that it isn't the best smelling place around.  I didn't really think about the heat and decomposition that goes into growing these fungi plants but it sure makes sense.  These guys were fast pickers too, they were able to pick 104 pounds per hour!  Again, Joel here wasn't as fast.

The last one we watched was Turtle Rescue.  In this episode they visited a sea turtle hospital where they treat sick or injured turtles.  Their goal is to rescue, rehabilitate, and release them back into the wild.  Sea turtles are an endangered species so only people with a permit can touch them, let alone keep them.  Like salmon, sea turtles lay eggs where they themselves were hatched from, so no matter how many miles away they are they know where to return.

In this episode there is a brief discussion about the origins of sea turtles which is from an evolutionary point of view, though they don't believe sea turtles themselves have evolved.  They date them back to the age of dinosaurs suggesting they are the oldest creature having been around over a hundred million years.  That was the only reference to origins that I found on any of the videos.  The rest simply has fun and interesting facts about the topics.

In all of the videos Gess loved the segments where they asked people on the street questions about the topic but they often gave wrong answers and that confused her.  She finally started asking me each time, "are they telling the truth?"  She was trying to learn facts and they were mixed up with mistakes.  I think I noticed in some episodes that they rang a bell in the background when the answer was correct.  That was helpful to let you know if they were right but it didn't seem to do that in all of them.

Gess enjoyed these and has watched some of them more than once.  I love that they encouraged her to explore more about the subjects.  She went to the library and checked out books on penguins and salmon.  We also encouraged her to try the foods that were discussed.  In fact, one day we had an entire dinner based upon our studies.  Daddy made salmon, rice with mushrooms, stuffed mushrooms, green beans with mushrooms, cranberry sauce and cranberry juice.  This had to be the first meal where she didn't have to ask, "where did that come from?"

Gess actually likes salmon and mushrooms, except when the mushrooms are stuffed.  I don't get that, those are the best kind!  Gess is also not a fan of orange juice or oranges, but we knew that already.  What we found out here is that she isn't a fan of cranberries either.  While she does like cranberry juice blends she didn't care for straight up cranberry juice, cranberry sauce, or even dried cranberries.

She still had fun discovering about them, which she probably wouldn't have done if not for these videos.

Overall I feel these were really well done.  I think that by dividing the tour up with the questions, fun facts, and other useful information really helped keep the video moving and the audience engaged.  Joel is also very entertaining and seems to have lots of fun so he really does get the kids excited about the topic.  While I feel they are bit pricey for three 30 minute segments, they were really fun to watch and we both learned a lot.

You can purchase the DVD's at the Curiosity Quest website.

DVD Combo Pack - Produce $24.95
DVD Combo Pack - Swimmers of the Sea $24.95

To learn more about them visit the website or read what other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew thought about them by clicking on the banner below.
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1 comment:

Jennifer aGlimpseOfOurLife said...

Have you found cranberry ketchup yet? I've never seen that, but I've tasted cranberry mustard that was great on sandwiches.


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