Review: Awesome Science, Mount St Helens

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Christmas, 2012, a church group gave us some spending money. We had enough socks already, so I decided the best thing for the kids (OK, it was really for me) would be to get the Awesome Science DVDS done by the Justice family. Here’s what I think of them.

If you can’t afford the whole set, get the St Helens one at least. Why? Because that volcano has given us observational science opportunities like no other. My personal favorite way to learn about the events there is the book by Dr. Austin, but my kids haven’t once looked at my copy. For them, a video is the way to go.

The idea of the Awesome Science series is really good. Having a “kid” do the talking gives it an instant connection with young people. The graphics and footage are well done, you can turn off the rock music in the settings, and there is a lot of information on each episode (they’re nearly an hour long).

The reason I didn’t write before is one major beef I have with the series; you need an adult vocabulary to fully understand what’s going on. I can’t imagine Noah (the c.14 year old host) wrote the script himself. In the Grand Canyon DVD (the first) he talks about how scientists “infer” things. I’ve got the study guides and that word didn’t even make the vocabulary list, they forgot how unusual it is for kids to talk about anyone ‘inferring’ anything.

Here’s a list of words I pulled from the Mount St Helens episode to give you an idea of what you’re in for. All of these were used without explanations. He wasn’t introducing you to these words, he expected you to already know how to use them:

  • empiricalDictionary
  • lateral
  • equivilent
  • estimated
  • alleged
  • direct observation
  • homogenized
  • indications are
  • subsequent models
  • lakes were breached
  • hence
  • displaced the lake
  • interpret a geologic site
  • hypothesised
  • aniseptic waters
  • waters prevailed
  • subsequent
  • ultimate authority

A few of these terms are mentioned in the teacher’s guide where it would be easier to pause and find out what he was talking about. But for kids watching a movie on the weekend, that’s a lot of big words!

With my family, I’ll probably sit down and teach them the big words Noah uses (“if he can understand them, you can too”) so they can expand their vocabulary. The problem comes if you want to show the films to everyday kids, they will miss some of the more important scientific points. At the same time, they’ll still learn a lot, so it’d be worth it anyway. Plus, my kids enjoy them. Watching for the 2nd and 3rd time, most of them wandered off to play, but my 6 year old stuck it through to the end ’cause he loves volcanoes!

I’m looking forward to what the Justice family is able to film this year. The more images of real geology not filtered through the Uniformitarian mindset we get in our heads, the better!

Remember your Creator while you are young, before the bad times come—before the years come when you say, “I have wasted my life.” Ecclesiastes 12:1 Easy-to-read Version

 

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