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Wallace & Gromit: World of Invention
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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Wallace & Gromit: World of Invention is a tip-top limited-run science series that will appeal to the type of child who likes to tinker or who's always curious about how things work. Since it features nothing scary, intense, or controversial, it can be safely watched by younger and older siblings, but since it has a fair amount of technical information and talking-head interviews along with animated Wallace and Gromit segments, younger brothers and sisters may wander away bored. But parents and grade-school-age kids are likely to be riveted by looks at inventions with gee-whiz grabbiness, like jet packs, insect-powered machines, and housekeeping robots. It's easy to imagine a kid watching this and then going right into the garage to invent something amazing, and for that reason alone, parents will love it (though kids should be cautioned against trying some of the more extreme inventions, like jet packs).
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What's the story?
Starring well-known stop-motion animated characters Wallace (voiced by Peter Sallis), an absent-minded inventor, and his dog, Gromit, the BBC series WALLACE & GROMIT: WORLD OF INVENTION takes a documentary-style look at wacky contraptions and how they work. On his workroom television screen, Wallace watches and comments on live-action segments that spotlight odd inventions -- like invisibility cloaks and machines that walk powered only by the wind. Wallace also looks at inventions that never got off the ground and various inventors who may not be famous but made fascinating things. The DVD includes the limited-run series' full six episodes, each about half an hour long.
Is it any good?
With absolutely charming stop-motion animation linking each segment of fascinating science, this is a slam-dunk for kids of a scientific or curious bent. Wallace and Gromit, are, of course, well-known characters already; kids have probably already seen one of their many shorts and movies, so they draw kids into what might otherwise be offputtingly technical.
Speaking of the show's technical segments, they may be a little detail-heavy for younger kids or those who aren't interested in the subject material. But if parents are, World of Invention is a great pick to watch with kids, because adults will be just as interested as kids to know how a jet pack works and why you don't slam into the side of the building when you're flying one. That sounds a little scary, but it's not presented as such; everything here is light, fun, and definitely aimed at promoting a love of science and invention.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the contraptions in each episode that "never got off the drawing board" (a regular feature). Why do you think they didn't work? What would have to happen to make them work? Do you think you could figure out a way to overcome the obstacles?
World of Invention notes that many inventors are trying to solve a problem. Can you think of any problems in your life or your house that need solving? What could you invent to solve them?
Many inventors use science and math to figure out new ways of doing things. Can you point to examples of science and math in World of Invention?
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