Sunday, April 13, 2014

Curiosity Quest Review

Curiosity Quest Review

Sometimes the best learning moments come from where you would least expect them.  Funny Bunny and I received two products to review from Curiosity Quest.  Curiosity Quest is educational programing that delves into the topics viewers like you and me want to know more about. 

We received the DVD Combo Pack - Produce and the DVD Combo Pack - Swimmers of the Sea.

{I want to mention that much of this review was written by Funny Bunny since she has a much better memory than me.  Sometimes our writing is very similar in style, but other times it is not.  I hope you enjoy what she has to say.}

Of course Funny Bunny loves animals so she asked to watch Swimmers of the Sea first.  It includes three episodes about Penguins, Alaskan Salmon, and Sea Turtles.

Curiosity Quest Review

Turtle Rescue

Host Joel Greene and the crew visit the Sea Turtle hospital in Marathon, Florida where the staff rescues, rehabs, and releases sea turtles.

We learned different ways turtles are harmed, an example of which is by swallowing plastic bags. We also watched as the turtles were fed and even saw the turtle eggs in the hatchery!

We learned some interesting things, such as a turtle comes back to the same beach she was born on to lay her eggs. That's one reason we need to preserve our beaches, so the sea turtles can thrive for many more years to come!   

In Turtle Rescue, there was a little bit about evolution, but it did not spoil the episode for us, and it was still very interesting!

Penguins

They visit Monterrey Bay Aquarium to talk all about the life of a penguin. 

Curiosity Quest Review

In this video, we learned that penguins don't need super cold climates to live in, which would be surprising to most people like us, who are use to picturing penguins in the icy Arctic.

We learned a lot of cool things about penguins. When they swim, predators under the sea (and prey) have a hard time seeing them because of their white bellies matching icebergs from an underwater view, and flying predators would not notice it because its black back blends in with the stormy-looking water around it. Cool!

There were plenty of other fun facts about penguins, and they were countless. We learned a lot about them.

I like the penguins' waddle best.

Salmon Hatchery

They visit Alaska to learn about salmon.  Now you would think that learning about salmon would be a little boring, but we learned so many new things, it was really interesting.

Imagine salmon splashing upstream in a river. Hundreds. No, maybe thousands! 

What are they doing? Where did they come from?

In Alaska, we learn about salmon. About the time of year the video was shot, they all were heading to the hatchery to lay their eggs. They go through the river (yes, Joel, the water is cold), then on to what looks like a "salmon highway", and into the hatchery. There they lay their eggs.

Once the baby salmon are of age, they will go under little floating docks - floating docks with netting on each underside, keeping the fish in. Soon they will be let go to the ocean, and the cycle continues!

Next we popped in the DVD Combo Pack - Produce.  it also includes three episodes about Mushrooms, Orange Packing, and Cranberries.

Curiosity Quest Review

Mushrooms

Joel Greene and the crew travel to the Monterrey Mushrooms facility and learn all about how mushrooms are grown.  I thought this episode was especially interesting because most of it was actually focused on the dirt the mushrooms are grown in.

What is the first step in growing mushrooms? That's the first question Joel asks, and the answer in completely unexpected.

Dirt? Seeds? Just finding the mushrooms? Those might be some guesses.

How about hay?

Yes, hay. Mushrooms are grown on hay.

Yes, I know.

It turns out that the hay bales must be fluffed, turned, broken apart, mushed, and decomposed. And then after that what happens?

They do it again.

You already are learning something new after like, what, five minutes of the video?

This was a great video, and we did learn a lot more stuff then just hay. We learned about growing, harvesting, incubating (yes, incubating a mushroom), sizing, packaging, and shipping. Whew! That is a very, very action-packed DVD!

Orange Picking

They visit orange groves and learn how they are grown, sorted, packaged, and shipped.

In this DVD, we obviously learned about oranges. But there was so much in this video that we never knew about them!

We are shown the best climate for orange-growing, the best way to orange-pick, and how to tell if the oranges are ripe. Then we are taken inside the building.

The oranges are put through a series of tests, each one narrowing the group down until only the ones fit for store are remaining. These are packages and sent over the country.

What happens to the other oranges that didn't make it? Well, if they're moldy or bad, then they may get fed to farm animals. If they are okay to eat, but aren't big enough, not the right color, or just not good enough to be sold in the market, these will be used to make juice.

Wow, we sure learned a lot about oranges in this video!

Cranberries

The crew visits a cranberry bog in Wisconsin.  This was another of our favorites and we actually watched it twice.  I never knew why cranberries were sitting in water to be harvested or how they even got there.  Do you?

Curiosity Quest Review

One of the main questions to this episode was, "Why in the commercials are the men standing in a lake of cranberries?" In this video, we'll learn that and so much more.

As they walked into the pit of cranberries, Joel asked just that. The answer was that they're so much easier to harvest when they're floating. Cranberries are buoyant, meaning that they are light and hollow, so they float. Machines drive through and harvest the floating cranberries. 

You may have noticed that some of the cranberries are green, not the reddish purple we all recognize. Is the answer that they are not ripe yet? Are they not ready? No. They just, as our guide says, "decided to live the rest of their life green." Green ones are usually sweeter then the red ones (except for the one Joel tried), though they are not generally sold in stores.

Inside, the cranberries undergo a series of tests much similar to the oranges. One of the tests is the "bounce test", determining whether or not the cranberry bounces high enough to be sold. A cranberry usually gets eight chances to prove itself.

We learned so much about cranberries, it was cool to figure out why the men do stand in a lake of cranberries.    

My Thoughts:  Host Joel Greene keeps each episode lively and entertaining.  He's quite a character and asks a lot of questions. He's also very hands on, which is great to watch.  Throughout each episode, there are clips where he asks kids questions about the topic and I think Funny Bunny really liked listening to their answers.  Also, at the end of each video they ask what we are curious about and encourage viewers to send in show ideas, which Funny Bunny has asked to do.

Thoughts of a 10-Year Old:  I really liked these DVDs, because they taught me a lot more about things I thought I already knew about (like turtles) and things that I wasn't quite as familiar with (like mushrooms).

If I had to pick a favorite video, I wouldn't know what to say. And that's pretty rare for me, as I'd usually pick a DVD with animals in it!

I think that the Curiosity Quest videos have really helped me think about things (especially the mushrooms) differently. For instance, who knew that mushrooms started with...hay! Who'd think?

Find Out More:  You can find out more online at Curiosity Quest.  The DVD Combo Pack - Produce and the DVD Combo Pack - Swimmers of the Sea are both $24.95 each.  These videos are geared towards children ages 7-14.  There are many other episodes available, including subjects such as food, animals, sports, and instruments. Each episode is 30 minutes and shares interesting and relatively unknown facts that your whole curious family will enjoy learning about.  Curiosity Quest is also available on many local PBS channels airing over 100 episodes.

You can also find Curiosity Quest on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

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