Smash Lab

Common Sense Media says

Crashing and bashing in the name of science.





What parents need to know

Positive messages

The series demonstrates how existing technology can be reinvented to create new innovations designed to make people's lives safer. The team is Caucasian; Deanne is the only female.


Close up images and replays of cars crashing into barriers at top speed, explosions, and other large-scale events. These moments aren't gratuitous, but are part of the show's scientific experiments.

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Drinking, drugs, & smoking
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Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this interesting series -- which focuses on reworking existing technology in order to provide better products intended to protect people -- tests new inventions in large-scale simulations that usually require crashing and blowing up cars or other vehicles in a protected environment. The experiments sometimes fail, but the failures are looked at as stepping stones in the overall design and engineering process. The show will most likely appeal to older tweens and teens who are either a) interested in science or b) like to watch things get smashed up in a big way. Kids (especially teens of driving age) may need to be reminded not to engage in such activities themselves.

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What's the story?

In SMASH LAB, scientist Deanne Bell, industrial designer Nick Blair, and mechanical engineers Chuck Messer and Kevin Cook rework scientific formulas, generate computer graphics, and apply various manual techniques in order to reinvent existing technological inventions. Their goal? Producing even better ways to help people survive potentially life-threatening events. By reworking and reformulating innovations like aerated concrete (used on airport runways to slow planes down), bullet-proof materials, and truck dampers, they create technology that, in turn, can be used to produce inventions that could potentially save the lives of people involved in car crashes, aircraft bombings, and earthquakes. The gang tests their inventions in large-scale simulations in which cars are purposely crashed at top speed, vehicles are blown up, and earthquakes are replicated.

Is it any good?


When talking to each other, the gang shares simplified explanations of the scientific and mechanical engineering theories they're working with. But despite these somewhat rehearsed moments, they're extremely enthusiastic about their experiments. The show even has some dramatic moments when each invention is put to the test. And when some experiments fail, the group remains excited about reworking the concepts in order to come up with a technological breakthrough that will work.

The series' focus on design and engineering might be a turn off for many kids. But the crashes, explosions, and other major destructive moments conducted in the name of research might be a selling point for some older tweens and teens who normally wouldn't be interested in the sciences. They may not pick up a lot of scientific theory, but they'll definitely see that successfully developing new technology is the result of both good ideas and being willing to learn from every failure.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how scientists and engineers create new technological innovations. How often do they fail before producing something that works? What can other people learn from that? Families can also discuss how television can promote science and learning. What did you learn from this show that you didn't know before? Are educational shows exciting and fun to watch? Why or why not?

TV details

Cast:Chuck Messer, Deanne Bell, Nick Blair
Network:Discovery Channel
TV rating:TV-PG

This review of Smash Lab was written by

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About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Adult Written byIdadho April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age

Makes JackAss the movie look tame.

Our kids have enough irresponsibility demonstrated today. They do not need it showcased in the name of "science." The stunts do not have any redeeming value. They have no science value and perpetuate the idea that you can do stupid stunts and get away with it. There are plenty of opportunities missed that could showcase the value of sound research and planning. This show is all about shock value and lame trailers trying to promote a lame show. Smash Lab at its best could not match MythBusters at its worst.
Adult Written byAndrek April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age


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