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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Popular Mechanics for Kids: Lightning and Other Forces of Nature
Popular Mechanics for Kids: Lightning and Other Forces of Nature
Koch Vision // Unrated // August 8, 2006
List Price: $14.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Lacey Worrell | posted August 5, 2006 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
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A D V I C E
Highly Recommended
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The Show:
Popular Mechanics for Kids: Lightning and Other Forces of Nature stays true to this show's formula of investigating what it calls "the science behind all the fun." This 4-episode collection encourages its young viewers to focus on scientific explanations for natural occurrences, and adults are guaranteed to learn a thing or two as well.

The individual episodes are as follows:

Ice: Experience a Hollywood-esque snow scene created in the middle of a warm day with Vanessa. Charlie shows how to balance on ice skates. Elisha gets to build a real-life igloo, and Tyler creates an ice storm.

Water: Tyler gets to learn about environmental hazards by traveling with a response team that treats oil spills. Elisha gets to go white-water rafting. Charlie discusses surface tension and makes "monster bubbles."

Earth Power: Elisha visits an active Hawaiian volcano, and Tyler goes to Whistler, B.C. (home of the next Winter Olympics!)to learn how avalanches occur and make one happen himself. Charlie shows how to make a homemade tornado.

Electricity: The hosts talk about lightbulbs and build a windmill. Jay works on live power lines, and Elisha learns about lightning and static electricity.

As in previous Popular Mechanics for Kids releases, fans of the television show 24 will recognize a preteen Elisha Cuthbert, and fans of the unjustly ignored American Dreams will recognize supporting player Vanessa Lengies.

This, or any of the other titles in the series, is an excellent investment. The kid hosts maintain a remarkable amount of energy and professionalism, and the overall production is of the highest quality. They appear to be genuinely enthused to travel all over the world to discover scientific principles, and their excitement is likely to spill over to the audience. Popular Mechanics for Kids is one of those rare products aimed at kids that manages to educate but at the same time maintain a sense of fun and adventure. This long-running series won multiple awards, has been recommended by Parents' Choice, and is a quality production overall. The scientific terminology, though heavily rooted in physics, is explained in simple language that does not condescend. The only slight issue I have with this disc is the shameless plug for Universal Studios, but the rest of it more than makes up for this minor misstep.

The DVD

Video:
The picture quality of this release is about the same as one might expect viewing it on television; there does not appear to be a significant improvement over what one might expect on videotape. Don't expect flashy graphics or a stunning picture.

Sound:
This disc is presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo, and it sounds quite good. Having watched some old movies on VHS recently, especially ones taped off of television, I am finding that no matter what format a DVD is released in, the sound is astonishingly better on DVD. So while Popular Mechanics for Kids is not an astounding audio experience or anything, it is still very good.

Extras:
There are no extras to be had, but considering the fairly generous running time of 88 minutes as well as the fact that this DVD contains four episodes of Popular Mechanics for Kids, don't be turned off by the lack of special features. The focus on exciting diversions like avalanches and exploding volcanoes will likely have young viewers clamoring to watch this DVD again and again.

Final Thoughts:
If you're a parent who is bored with the standard fare aimed at kids aged 6-12, give this series of discs a try. It is truly engrossing viewing, and although it is educational, it's great fun as well. One of the few shows you might actually be happy to stick in the old DVD player!

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