Saturday, April 12, 2014

A TOS Homeschool Crew Review: Curiosity Quest

This spring I learned for the first time about a company called Curiosity Quest that produces educational DVDs about various natural science topics.
I was selected to review two of their products: DVD Combo Pack - Produce (Mushrooms, Cranberries, Orange Packing) and DVD Combo Pack - Swimmers of the Sea (Sea Turtle Rescue, Penguins, Salmon).

We started our viewing with Produce, which contains Curiosity Quest episodes about oranges, cranberries and mushrooms, watching Oranges first. 
I had had an idea about what it looked like when field workers collected and "dumped" their loads of oranges, but I had never seen it. It was interesting to learn about how they snip to pick, not twist or pull, and also how the oranges are sorted, sorted, and sorted. I was surprised that it was harvest time when it was so cold outside!

The episode about mushrooms was also fun to watch, and I was surprised at how much I didn't know. Mushrooms aren't a vegetable. In cooking, I usually think of them as vegetables. I've never seen a "fungi" listed as a food group, only "Fruits and Vegetables". And I learned that mushrooms do not grow from seeds, but from spores. There is a whole different vocabulary for talking about mushrooms.

The episode about cranberries was interesting. Kids were asked what cranberries taste like, and it was funny that they assumed that cranberries are juicy and sweet. Cranberries are always dried to be, and they are only sweet when they've had sugar added!

Next we watched Swimmers of the Sea.Throughout the viewing Miner periodically commented that he thought the "Fun Facts" blurbs were silly, and that he thought the section where they ask random people questions (like "Why don't penguins fly?" was silly. I think he was overly critical.

I was really enjoying Penguins, and was interested when the penguin keeper told Joel Greene, the host, that she was going to show him how to tell the boy penguins from the girl penguins. Imagine my disappointment when she told him that the girl penguins were the ones with the green tag on their wing/flipper! Well, I guess they can't show us how you tell the difference between the boys and the girls without the green tags...
My sister came in during Turtles and watched Turtles and Salmon episodes. The Turtles covered more than one type of Sea Turtle, so I'm confused about which type this is, but one type of turtles they know the male from the female turtles by their tail. Females have tails, but they are so short that they remain in their shell. Male turtles develop their tails when they are ready to mate; I think Joel said that can take as long as fifteen years. Do you know what turtles eat? Or how long they live? You can learn all these facts by watching Swimmers of the Sea

Watching the episode about salmon, I learned that salmon know where they hatched and get back there to spawn by smell! I had no idea! They know they are there when the smell is right. Their life cycle includes spawning once, and then the die. You can learn all about salmon, where they eat, how and why naturalists are helping them and much more in this episode. And did you know there is one word for animals born in fresh water that live in salt water, and a different word for animals born in salt water that live in fresh water? (I didn't even know there were animals that are born in salt water that then live in fresh water...)

When I asked Miner which episode he liked best, he said,
"Cranberries!" That surprised me. I think I liked the Turtles episode best.

If I could wish for one improvement on the DVDs, it would be that they could be CD/DVDs that had a PDF file with vocabulary words and review questions. I don't know if that could be done, but it would improve the product for me.
Curiosity Quest is an informational series that investigates various topics in response to letters that viewers send in. The episodes are geared towards children ages 7-14.The Curiosity Quest Combo Packs cost $24.95 each and each episode runs about 30 minutes. I was given two Curiosity Quest Combo Packs to watch in order to give my honest and unbiased review. I was not required to post a favorable review.

To see what other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew thought of their Curiosity Quest Combo Packs, click the button below.

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