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Stellar science series expands curious minds.
Parents recommend

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Promotes science; fosters curiosity and further research.

Positive role models

People from various cultures (past and present) around the world are featured.


Scientific/historical coverage of subjects like war, weapons, crime forensics, and natural and man-made disasters (examples: tornados, plane crashes, 9/11). Some accompanying images can be harrowing.


Scientific coverage of human sexuality, gender, and reproduction, as well as AIDS, population control, and other sex-related topics

Not applicable
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Sometimes shown in the context of scientific coverage (ie, "Search for a Safe Cigarette").

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this award-winning science series explores many topics that may be considered controversial, from AIDS to human cloning and "safe" cigarettes. While the science is presented in easy-to-understand terms, younger kids may not be able to grasp everything presented or may lose interest altogether. The show's documentary-style format is lively and far from dry, but parents should be aware that younger or less-curious kids may lose interest in this hour-long program, especially if they're used to watching lighter fare. Parents need to be aware that this show can be used as a teaching tool -- watch it with your kids, then conduct additional research to further expand your minds.

What's the story?

First airing in 1974, PBS's NOVA is the highest-rated science program on TV and has won dozens of awards, including multiple Emmy, Peabody, and Westinghouse Science Journalism honors. The series takes a documentary-style approach to its topics -- each episode exposes and explores many layers of the subject at hand, with an emphasis on the human factor. Episodes cover everything from global warming to a mysterious, modern-day Turkish family that walks on all fours. One program may delve into the mysteries of the ancient Mayans, while another reveals advances in finding a cure for cancer. The approach is always scientific, and most episodes also offer lessons in history, current events, culture, and other scholarly data.

Is it any good?


NOVA strives to present complex scientific concepts in easy-to-understand terms and is a great educational tool for teens and tweens. Younger kids can also get a lot from the show if they're able to pay attention, but parents may end up fielding some serious science questions from curious little ones who aren't able to grasp every detail. The show's subject material is wide-ranging and can include controversial topics like human cloning and sexuality, so parents may want to watch along with their kids, or pre-approve episodes on an individual basis. What makes NOVA such a stand-out series is that it really digs into the topic at hand, leaving no stone unturned as it seeks to reveal the human side of its scientific subjects. It's this thorough, investigative approach that makes NOVA such a great learning tool for families.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how a topic relates to their own lives, the lives of people they know, and the world at large. Parents and kids can conduct further research to learn more and to find answers to questions that arose while watching the show. For example, after viewing the episode "Monsters of the Milky Way," families may want to discuss string theory and how it relates to tiny black holes. How can "interference patterns" help prove the existence of tiny black holes? If tiny black holes do indeed exist within our solar system, how might they affect space travel, and even our daily lives? PBS's online teacher's guides provide additional discussion topics.

TV details

Premiere date:March 3, 1974
Cast:Calvin Sims, Carla Wohl, Chad Cohen
Topics:Science and nature
Character strengths:Curiosity
TV rating:TV-PG
Available on:DVD, Streaming

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Kid, 10 years old April 9, 2008

I am thoruoghly offended...

I am offended by this show, as I am offended by Science. This show is clearly promoting things like Evolution(I'm a Cristian), and to me, that is total crap. What has Science come to? Heck, what has the school system come to? On every Animal Planet show, with some exceptions like Meerkat Manor and Lemur Kingdom, I hear "this animal evolved this and that" and on Dinosaur shows they always say stuff about evolution, too! Where's God in our culture now? What has happened to Him? :-(
Parent of a 18+ year old Written byluvgoodshows April 9, 2008

A must-watch show

I don't really have a lot to say because I like every show on PBS, but if you're looking for a quality show, this is definitely one to watch. You learn things about the Earth that you wouldn't be able to find almost anywhere else.
Parent of a 12 year old Written byTsion April 9, 2008

Interesting and Thought-Provoking...A Must-See!

NOVA is a thought-provoking series that covers interesting subjects in language, history, science, and math...all subjects! Some talk of AIDs, gender, and other remotley sex-related topics, and some talk of terrorism and wars. Language, which is remote, is beeped out. A must-see for families. Some younger kids may not understand what is being talked about, but there's nothing really to be concerned about. Awesome!


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