Dragonfly TV debuts on WTTW


New PBS show makes science fun

Image courtesy of DragonflyTV . Dragonfly TV debuts in Chicago Jan. 18.

I think you really have to work hard to make science boring. Unfortunately, too many people have worked too hard for too long. Maybe that is why nationally our children are behind in science. But there are bright teaching lights who give science majesty, mystery and fun. You've probably met them. For me, it was Mrs. Chico in eighth grade. For my sons, it's been Mr. Vicente and Mr. Walsh.

"Dragonfly TV" is in the same tradition. The 30-minute show produced in St. Paul, Minn., by TPT/Twin Cities Public Television, will debut at 7 a.m., Jan. 18, on WTTW-TV Channel 11.

It is the third season for the show but the first time here in Chicago. The show's publicity describes it as a reality program, like "Survivors" and "The Bachelor" but better since it is "real reality television for the thinking kid."

Is it "Real World" meets "Bill Nye, the Science Guy"?

Not quite. It is more a marriage of Bill Nye's wonderful show with an older one, "3-2-1 Contact," produced by the Children's Television Workshop-the same outfit that developed "Sesame Street." Contact had a company of kids who were the scientists, going out and finding the real truth behind garbage or what happens when water runs down the drain. The show, like Bill Nye, aired on public television and was an extension of the questions that kid viewers had.

"Dragonfly TV" switches between two regular hosts and regular kids, combining the kids' exploration with a more sound-bite-Bill-Nye-format-using fast-paced graphics, music, sounds and angled camera shots to smooth the transitions, switch the topics and make the show appealing.

"Dragonfly TV" is not as good as Contact or Bill Nye. But it is a good science program featuring tensomethings. It also brings the Internet into the show, asking kids to explore the same science questions and post their findings at www.dragonflytv.org. The next episodes supposedly draw from those e-mails, highlighting children's names, cities, ideas and questions.

It is a shame the show is in such an obscure slot. While Sunday morning television has been catching up to Saturday morning, it would be nice to have an interesting show airing for the 7-12 set after school.

But you can always tape "Dragonfly TV" or find a used copy of "3-2-1 Contact" at www.amazon.com or the library.

And there is always the king of science, Bill Nye. Find him at www.billnye.com. Susy Schultz.

Kids Eat Chicago

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