Did you know that oranges can get injured and that not all penguins live in the cold and ice? Curiosity Quest will show you these things and so much more. Begun as a PBS program in California, Curiosity Quest is sharing their fun and exciting learning with all of us through DVD and we are so very happy about it. Host Joel Greene visits different sites around the country to answer questions sent in from curious viewers.
We were sent two Curiosity Quest DVDs to review: DVD Combo Pack – Produce and DVD Combo Pack – Swimmers of the Sea. Each of these combo packs includes three episodes and sells for $24.95 on their site. Each episode runs approximately 30 minutes and is recommended for ages 7 -14, though much younger and much older will enjoy them as well. All you need to experience the exploration of various topics is a DVD, available from the Curiosity Quest store, and something to play and view it on, such as a DVD player and TV.
The Produce Combo Pack: episodes on oranges, mushrooms, and cranberries
The Orange Packing episode takes us to California where Joel learns all about picking and packing oranges so they can be shipped around the country and around the world. From learning how to clip the oranges off the tree (you don’t pluck or pull and you have to clip the stem close or it can cause an injury to another orange) to placing them carefully into the bags and then bins, to disinfecting and washing them, to packing and shipping – there are so many aspects to packing up oranges that we didn’t know anything about.
In Mushrooms, Joel visits a mushroom grower. He learns about the process of preparing soil (which starts as hay) for the mushrooms to grow in and then they go to the growing rooms where the mushrooms grow. Because mushrooms grow from spores which are next to invisible, a grass seed is infused with the mushroom spores and then planted. From white mushrooms to the portabella mushrooms, the climate control is precise. Watching the picking (they pick 100+ pounds per hour per person!) and packing (they pack them 200 different ways!) was interesting.
In Cranberries, we learned that cranberries don’t actually grow in the bogs and water. When it is picking time, the growers flood the fields to assist in harvesting the cranberries. Joel visited a grower in Wisconsin to experience the cold harvest (it was snowing in the video), processing, and packaging of the cranberries. They can be packaged as fresh cranberries (they have to bounce to be good enough for fresh) or sent off to make juice (if they didn’t bounce but aren’t bruised, they go to the juice plant). An interesting thing about the bruised and bad ones – organic chicken growers often feed their animals these cranberries because they are so high in antioxidants and other things that help keep the animals healthy.
The Swimmers of the Sea Combo Pack: episodes on penquins, sea turtles, and salmon
In Turtle Rescue, Joel visits the Turtle Hospital in Florida, whose goal is Rescue. Rehab. Release., to learn about helping the endangered sea turtles. He meets several of the resident sea turtles, learns about helping them be healthy (the right food) , how to feed them (watch out for your fingers! use a pole with a clamp on the end), and what can be done to help all sea turtles survive. He experiences all that must go on to help sick and injured sea turtles be able to return to their natural habitat so that hopefully, these critically endangered animals will be able to rebound and thrive.
The Penguins episode takes Joel and his curious viewers to the Monterrey Bay Aquarium and their penguin exhibit. Behind the scenes, Joel learns about the penguins (they have over 100 feathers per square inch), what they eat (small fish like capelin and herring), and how they live (in colonies). He experiences feeding the penguins, their habitat, and all that the keepers do to help the penguins live lives that are healthy.
The episode Salmon Hatchery takes the viewers to Alaska, famous for its salmon. Viewers get to see Joel visit the rivers (he waded into the VERY cold water barefooted), see salmon returning to their home waters to spawn (there are so many the river looks more like salmon moving than water moving), and learn about the 5 different species of salmon found in Alaska. We learned that they lay their eggs in gravel in fresh water but they live in the salt water of the Pacific Ocean. He visits a hatchery that works to help salmon hatch and grow to the point where they can be released into the wild. The view of the salmon ladder is interesting and watching the salmon jump up the ladder is exciting and fascinating (we kept on cheering for that one that would jump and end up going backwards).
Curiosity Quest spurs learning and further curiosity
We thoroughly enjoyed the Curiosity Quest videos. We liked them so much that we couldn’t watch just one episode at a time! We learned so much from each one of them. While I had fun learning about the produce and how it makes it to our tables, I enjoyed the animal episodes a whole lot more. There is so much that you learn because each sentence is filled with information and learning. Better, though, is that after watching the videos, the girls wanted to learn even more about the topics. And isn’t that the point?
After watching the episode about oranges, the girls wondered. Some of the questions were: what are the different types of oranges? What do they tasted like and do they taste different from each other? How do they look when they get injured? Do we have any that were injured? Do we have any that were green and missed the process that helps them turn orange? We were able to do several additional activities with oranges following the video because the girls were even more curious than they were prior to watching Curiosity Quest.
A few days after we saw the mushroom episode, we went to the grocery store. The girls wanted to look more at the mushrooms. We looked at and bought some white mushrooms. We compared the looks and prices of the portabella mushrooms. When we got home, they handled the mushrooms and we looked at the spores. At the library, the girls checked out a book about poisonous mushrooms.
The penguins episode made them want to know even more so we checked out some non-fiction books for them to read. They also put together a foam kit (that I had found on sale $0.40 after Christmas and had stashed until needed) with penguins in it. Then they went and collected rocks, since the penguins in the video lived on/in rocks rather than ice. They got a bowl out and put water and food coloring in it for the penguins to swim in. They put a couple of plants from their dollhouse there and – bingo – a penguin habitat. They even made it so that there was a little box for the penguins to go into like the ones shown on the video.
After the salmon episode, we looked at salmon at the grocery store and had some for dinner (not their favorite fish, which is a shock to me as it is the only one I enjoy). We also got out some books for them to read, which they loved.
Sea turtles are a favorite and we spent some time earlier in the year on them. It wasn’t quite as much of a curiosity spur for them because of that but they did choose to check some books out at the library.
This one’s a winner!
Curiosity Quest has highly impressed me. (In fact, I have watched some of the episodes again without the giggly girls.) Since we don’t have access to it as a TV show, we are looking at working these into our curriculum choices for the summer and next year on DVD. They have 6 seasons worth of episodes for you to choose from and I found their online store (http://CuriosityQuestStore.com) easy to navigate. Another option that I am considering is their monthly or annual membership which automatically sends you episodes each month. Either way, I am hoping to be able to add more of these to our viewing options in the coming months so we can satisfy some more of our curiosity. At Home.
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