A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the concepts covered in this educational series -- which focuses on explaining the physical forces that shaped the Earth, including erosion, plate tectonics, and many other geological effects -- are sometimes complex, but the featured researchers explain them in easy terms, making the history of the planet come alive. Aside from a few potentially intense/scary images of phenomena like volcanoes and tsunamis, here’s no reason why kids shouldn’t watch this show, and it might even encourage them to study geology or other Earth sciences.
What's the story?
HOW THE EARTH WAS MADE examines the planet's evolution and development -- not its people or animals, but its natural features (rocks, mountains, oceans, continents, and other key geographic components). In each episode, researchers and scientists explain the origin of a single location, such as the Grand Canyon, Mt. Vesuvius, or New York City. They trek out to the sites and explain the clues hidden in the dirt and rocks that reveal how each location came to be the way it is. These interviews are coupled with computer animations that compress millions of years into a few seconds, providing more details about erosion, plate tectonics, and other forces that have shaped the planet.
Is it any good?
Rare is the series that manages to interest viewers in, quite literally, the history of dirt. How the Earth Was Made manages to do so, largely because it selects experts who really know their stuff and can explain it in terms that are easy to understand. It also digs deep (literally and figuratively), revealing both interesting science and interesting history. Sure, everyone knows that the Grand Canyon was formed by erosion over millions of years, but not many people know that a century ago, researchers disagreed over which river was the cause.
The end result is more than just a geology lecture -- it's also a primer on the evolution of ideas. It may be more than most people think they need to know about rocks and mountains and rivers, but none of it is useless information.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about geology and history. Did this show teach you anything interesting about how the Earth was formed? Do you understand the scientific concepts that shaped the planet’s features?
Does this show change your opinion about geology and geography? Are you motivated to learn more about Earth science?