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The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that NOVA Wonders is an educational series where scientists investigate quandaries like the universe's make-up and whether artificial intelligence can mimic the human experience and emotions. Each hour-long episode centers on one question, exploring how various scientists study, analyze data, and experiment to gain a better understanding of the topic and eventually arrive at a conclusion. The show's content is mostly appropriate for kids and tweens, although there are some references to sex, reproduction, and the mating process in applicable segments. Viewers see STEM concepts applied to real-world scenarios, and there's a general sense of the value of curiosity in driving discovery. Because the show's three scientist hosts are people of color and two of them are women, it also challenges stereotypes about professionals in STEM fields.
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What's the story?
NOVA WONDERS spotlights scientists' work to unravel mysteries like the possibility of extraterrestrial life, the microscopic realities of the human body's ecosystem, and animals' ability to communicate with each other. Hosted by neuroscientist Andre Fenton, computer scientist Rana El Kaliouby, and mathematician Talithia Williams, the show explores how experts in various scientific disciplines work to understand some of the biggest questions in the universe.
Is it any good?
This series does a good job condensing complex concepts for an audience of laypeople, but the content is pretty dry for anyone who's not already interested in the topics. Extensive time is spent observing the work scientists do -- and sometimes watching them doing the work they do -- which isn't necessarily action-packed viewing. The good news? They're usually enthusiastic enough about their projects for everyone. The bad news? Not every viewer will be as jazzed about watching spiders attempt to mate, for example, as are those who make this kind of thing their life's work.
For tweens and teens with an interest in the sciences, NOVA Wonders can be a decent and educational watch. If nothing else, the show and its hosts reinforce the value of curiosity in inspiring interests and careers, particularly in STEM fields. Seeing practical applications of science and math skills is another reminder of how seemingly esoteric concepts can be used in real-world scenarios.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how discoveries are made. What do you think inspires the scientists' queries and work in NOVA Wonders? How do their discoveries benefit the human population as a whole? What questions do you have about how things work?
Are your kids interested in these fields? How do scientific discoveries and inventions help people in their everyday lives?
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