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Science Documentaries for Youngsters?

Soulskill posted more than 6 years ago | from the billions-and-billions dept.

Education 383

An anonymous reader writes "My 7-year-old daughter is asking some interesting questions, such as, 'How did everything get created?' I've explained, in general terms, our family's non-religious views on the subject of creation and the Big Bang. I'd like to find some documentary videos geared to this age level that may explain better these concepts and theories. I've found a few PBS specials online - Stephen Hawking stuff - but they seem to be geared for young adults and older. Does anyone have recommended titles that might be better geared to children of this age bracket?"

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Symmetry (5, Informative)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 6 years ago | (#23291256)

It's not a video, but if you have a science-oriented child in your household, Symmetry magazine is a very good choice. It's published by Fermilab and discusses all sorts of things related to scientific discovery, from particle physics to the daily routine of scientists at Fermilab. It's a regular publication and it costs nothing, so it's only a positive for your kid. []

Re:Symmetry (2, Funny)

kaos07 (1113443) | more than 6 years ago | (#23291304)

To be honest, I can't see a 7-year old being that excited about particle physics and the daily routine of scientists at Fermilab.

In fact I can't really see anyone being interested in the daily routine of scientists at Fermilab...

Re:Symmetry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23291408)

"In fact I can't really see anyone being interested in the daily routine"

lol, the truth - most jobs I've seen are mundane, sad but true

Beginnings. (3, Insightful)

headkase (533448) | more than 6 years ago | (#23291290)

I'm not religious at all but still I see some mysticism in the Universe. To quote the Matrix: "Everything that has a beginning has an end.". Or to put it in human terms, we cannot comprehend something that did not have a beginning. And Turtles all the way down just doesn't cut it.

Re:Beginnings. (4, Insightful)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 6 years ago | (#23291420)

Mysticism is a response to the unknown. Unfortunately it isn't a very useful response. It is much better to respond with empiricism and inquiry than carving stone idols.

Re:Beginnings. (0, Offtopic)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | more than 6 years ago | (#23291804)

> Mysticism is a response to the unknown.

I don't know which mystics you have been interacting with, or where you read your definition, but that is why you are not a mystic - because that is not its definition.

A mystic is someone who realizes, understands, knows, and is able to tap into deeper insights that there is significantly more then what the usualy limited 5 perceptions led us to believe. Their true knowledge is based on gnosis, not pseudo-intellectual knowledge that others tell them.

i.e. You could be told "You are not your physical body. You are a spiritual being having a human experience in a physical body. You are dreaming -- the goal of life is 'wake up', or 'enter the light', or as it is more commonly called 'enlightenment.' (which is also a journey, not only a destination.)", but all this wouldn't mean anything, until _you_ have proved it to yourself.

A mystic is also someone who realizes that True Religion is a way to prove your beliefs, by the way you live. If you do nothing with your beliefs, they are just that, beliefs.

The same way that a child can't do advanced math until it develops its mind, is exactly why people are generally ignorant of the consciousness of the universe, let alone themselves. A few scientists realize there is much, much more...

* "Today there is a wide measure of agreement... that the stream of knowledge is heading towards a non-mechanical reality; the universe begins to look more like a great thought than like a great machine
  - Astronomer James Jeans

* "The stuff of the universe is mind-stuff"
  - Astronomer Arthur Eddington

* "... our brains mathematically construct hard reality by interpreting frequencies from a dimension transcending time and space. The brain is a hologram, interpreting a holographic universe."
  - Cyberneticist David Foster

* "The scientist has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries."
- Robert Jastrow, (was head of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies), in his book "God and the Astronomers"

The "problem" with mystics is that they are unable to communicate precisely what they know, because others don't have the same frame of reference. i.e. If you were color blind, someone telling you about the color "red", or "green" would be absolutely meaningless to you because you have no valid frame of reference.

The more important question is, "How did they get to know what they know" :-)

Re:Beginnings. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23291942)

Of course, the mystics could just be delusional.

So, apart from the meaningless, out of context quotes from "authorities", your mystics tap into something that can't be detected and produce no communicatible results.

I'm sure it's a very nice delusion, with a way to train the release of endorphins or self-stimulate that part of the mind that produces that "one-with-the-universe" feeling (that can also be accomplished with an electrode), and it may even produce some nice rule-to-live-by....

But if you stop at mysticism - you're no better than those parents that let their kid die because they used prayer instead of medical attention.

Re:Beginnings. (1)

bistromath007 (1253428) | more than 6 years ago | (#23292002)

Speaking as somebody who was once on your side, I can tell you that it has alot to do with deep self-examination, something many people, even the smart ones, don't seem to have a great deal of time for. In many ways, what is known as mysticism is the remaining difference between a scientist who still believes in free will, and one who believes that we are nothing but chemical machines either trudging down predestined paths or rolling dice all day long. The scientist who doesn't understand these things would say "what do you mean 'just' a machine? Machines are such complex things that they are everything you experience. They can't be 'just anything." But I know from searching within myself that I have some kind of connection to something we have not yet categorized. I am certain that I have found my soul.

Re:Beginnings. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23291442)

It is not difficult to comprehend something that has a beginning, but no end. Consider the interval [0, infinity). Please do not look to "The Matrix" for spiritual guidance. You won't find anything worth a damn there.

Re:Beginnings. (4, Interesting)

Geno Z Heinlein (659438) | more than 6 years ago | (#23291826)

Please do not look to "The Matrix" for spiritual guidance. You won't find anything worth a damn there.
I respectfully disagree. The Matrix asks a lot of important questions about creation, existence, and perception that every individual absolutely must deal with if they are going to choose their place in the world around them, if they are genuinely going to decide to even be an individual. The Matrix is our generation's telling of Allegory of the Cave, which is the root of all Western European thought about both will and epistemology.

That's worth a big damn.

Re:Beginnings. (3, Funny)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 6 years ago | (#23292018)

The Matrix asks a lot of important questions about creation, existence, and perception that every individual absolutely must deal with if they are going to choose their place in the world around them, if they are genuinely going to decide to even be an individual. The Matrix is our generation's telling of Allegory of the Cave, which is the root of all Western European thought about both will and epistemology.

That's worth a big damn.


Re:Beginnings. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23291672)

I still see a lot of mysticism as well. You, my neighbours, etc. Heck, it seems like everyone is a mystic.

Re:Beginnings. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23291678)

Mysticism, (as opposed to wonder) is a power play. It's a way of taking advantage of others' (and possibly your own) lack of understanding. It's a way of obfuscating the fact that you just don't know in a fancy language that requires a priest or a scientist or a marketer to interpret it. The ones in charge of mystifying language then lay claim to an authority to tell those who have bought into it what to do.

Forget kids-oriented stuff. Provide adult science themed text and video and read and watch it WITH you child.

Re:Beginnings. (4, Insightful)

witherstaff (713820) | more than 6 years ago | (#23291752)

Instead of quoting the matrix you may want to change to quoting Einstein:

The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. He who knows it not and can no longer wonder, no longer feel amazement, is as good as dead, a snuffed-out candle. It was the experience of mystery -- even if mixed with fear-that engendered religion. A knowledge of the existence of something we cannot penetrate, of the manifestations of the profoundest reason and the most radiant beauty, which are only accessible to our reason in their most elementary forms-it is this knowledge and this emotion that constitute the truly religious attitude; in this sense, and in this alone, I am a deeply religious man. I cannot conceive of a God who rewards and punishes his creatures, or has a will of the type of which we are conscious in ourselves. An individual who should survive his physical death is also beyond my comprehension, nor do I wish it otherwise; such notions are for the fears or absurd egoism of feeble souls. Enough for me the mystery of the eternity of life, and the inkling of the marvellous structure of reality, together with the single-hearted endeavour to comprehend a portion, be it never so tiny, of the reason that manifests itself in nature.
-Albert Einstein, The World as I See It

Re:Beginnings. (1)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | more than 6 years ago | (#23291838)

> Or to put it in human terms, we cannot comprehend something that did not have a beginning.

That's a fallacy: Draw a circle. It has no beginning or end.

The universes is like a circle.

Wonders of Life Series (5, Informative)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 6 years ago | (#23291298)

Frank Capra did a series of science documentaries in the 50's that are quite amazing. Adults might find them a bit over the top, but for a seven year old they can be really mind bending. I know they had a big impact on me as a child.

Our Mr. Sun
Hemo the Magnificent
Unchained Goddess
The Strange Case of Cosmic Rays

are available on DVD. The whole series had nine films, but I haven't been able to find the others.

Winged Migration is also quite good.

www how things work dot com of course (2, Insightful)

2TecTom (311314) | more than 6 years ago | (#23291306)

oh, & wikipedia, NASA, etc. yup, that should keep a seven year old busy

as for books, try the library

Re:www how things work dot com of course (1)

Kenoli (934612) | more than 6 years ago | (#23291328)

Yeah, everything from Wikipedia and NASA is right there on the 7-year-old level.

And the library has books. Who knew?

Re:www how things work dot com of course (4, Informative)

2TecTom (311314) | more than 6 years ago | (#23291460)

well, let's see what googles, shall we ...

Wikipedia for Kids: []
Article on Wikipedia for Kids: []
NASA for Kids: []

and yes, if you want kids books, ask a librarian at the library, imho

Wikipedia lessons for kids (1, Troll)

jerryasher (151512) | more than 6 years ago | (#23291882)

Go to an important (for your kids) Wikipedia article, say one on Hannah Montanah.

Edit it. Add the fact that she has a dinosaur for a pet. Or the part about her having five elbows. Save. Show. (And then revert.) Ask your kid about the wisdom of using Wikipedia. (*)

I am actually proud of my kids' school, where they have banned wikipedia for use as a source.

(*) Extra Credit. Visit a free wifi coffee house. Try and deface the page for Jamie Lynn Spears, or Lindsay Lohan. Add some sort of scandal. Save the page. See if anyone was able to detect it the next day.

Simpsons to the rescue again! (5, Funny)

mlawrence (1094477) | more than 6 years ago | (#23291308)

This opening video should keep your child interested and fuel a healthy discussion. []

Re:Simpsons to the rescue again! (1)

JoshuaDFranklin (147726) | more than 6 years ago | (#23291742)

The Simpsons is actually a good suggestion since discussion is the point.

The Magic School Bus Inside the Solar System mentions a couple things about formation of planets.

Also, just watch the "adult" PBS specials... they're usually at a roughly 6th grade level anyway, and your child will ignore or ask questions about what she or he doesn't understand.

Re:Simpsons to the rescue again! (1)

mlawrence (1094477) | more than 6 years ago | (#23291776)

I know - I didn't mean for it to be "funny". I really like how the cartoon covers some small points - like the mammal crawling into the hole in the ground just before the comet hit - and Moe evolving into something less. :)

Re:Simpsons to the rescue again! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23292062)

Youtube - "This video is not available in your country." - I am in the UK.

Anyone know what would bar this in the UK?

Off to look for a suitable proxy as I HATE being censored!

Torrents? (2, Informative)

venkateshkumar99 (791435) | more than 6 years ago | (#23291310)

If you are OK with torrents, is a highly recommended place to look for educational documentaries.

Re:Torrents? (1)

laederkeps (976361) | more than 6 years ago | (#23291910)

That's great stuff!
Thank you VERY much for sharing that, I just lost any free time for the next few years.

"The Universe" on the History Channel (4, Informative)

RAM_Doubler (1240072) | more than 6 years ago | (#23291320)

"The Universe" series on the history channel has some quality episodes about the origins of the solar system and the Universe. (

Re:"The Universe" on the History Channel (1)

RobBebop (947356) | more than 6 years ago | (#23291832)

"The Universe" has a really bizarre online distribution model [] where they always have an assortment of "short" interesting clips and one or two old "full length episodes" posted for streaming.

For instance, the Full Episodes that are up now are "Nebulas" and "Cosmic Collisions"... and you can expect CC to be replaced by something else a week from now. For a 7-year old, I would venture to guess that watching this streaming over the internet isn't optimal though.

Another alternative is to just order the first season of DVDs [] and then watch the second season which is currently being shown.

Having said all that, the discussions on The Universe are definitely geared towards laymen and I wouldn't have a doubt that young teens would be able to grasp the concepts that they talk about. Plus, as an engineer in his mid-20's the show has taught me quite a lot about how exploration of "The Universe" has advanced in the last twenty years (an example at the top of my head is the presentation of hard evidence of the asteroid that struck the Yucatan and killed the dinosaurs -- hint: a layer of glass at the impact site).

So... even if your 7-year old seems too young for it, you would still probably learn a thing or two and become more equipped to answer her questions about science, space, creation, and the Universe.

Re:"The Universe" on the History Channel (1)

profman (962849) | more than 6 years ago | (#23291988)

I agree. My 4 year old and I both love The Universe. The graphics and animations hold the attention of the youngsters when they're very young and the material is rich enough for them to grow into it.

Cosmos (5, Informative)

Lord Byron II (671689) | more than 6 years ago | (#23291330)

It's old, but its wonderful. It's truly Carl Sagan at his best. And when she's old enough, there's the companion book. And the whole thing is available on Netflix.

Re:Cosmos (1)

3waygeek (58990) | more than 6 years ago | (#23291374)

I'm watching an episode right now on the Science Channel.

Re:Cosmos (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 6 years ago | (#23291400)

Seconded --

    I wasn't much older when this came out, maybe 9 years old. But everything is explained so clearly and so simply, it truly is a masterpiece despite the now "dated" computer graphics.

Re:Cosmos (4, Informative)

Geno Z Heinlein (659438) | more than 6 years ago | (#23291708)

Absolutely seconded, Cosmos is just brilliant. Even without the science, even just as some visual tone poem, it would be a fascinating show. I remember a "thought spaceship" -- it might not have been that exact name -- where Sagan introduced the idea that we might picture in our minds what could exist literally "billions" of light years away. Cosmos also was my introduction to the composer Shostakovich and his 11th symphony.

But with the science? Cosmos is of profound educational and inspirational value. It's been something like 30 years since it came out -- I tend to think of Cosmos in one mental breath with the specials about relativity that came out in 1979 for the centennial of Einstein's birth -- but I remember feeling like this was something special. Sagan was a guy who really had a sense of just how damn cool the universe is.

Re:Cosmos (1)

ArchMageZeratuL (1276832) | more than 6 years ago | (#23291740)

Cosmos is DEFINITELY the way to go. Superb, beautiful for people of all ages. It's a shame that many youngsters (myself included until two years ago) haven't seen it.

Re:Cosmos (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23291872)

I remember Cosmos as being very impressive but no so much on re-watching it recently. Sagan provided the initial impetus for my (long) life of curiosity but the shows seem dated now.

BBC had a more recent one called Space with Sam Neill which is very similar to Cosmos. Check that out.

Life on Earth - David Attenborough (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23291344)

Absolutely the best nature documentary explaining evolution.
The newer BBC Planet Earth is great too, but Life on Earth is far more educational. Just a great series.
After that I would say Carl Sagan's Cosmos would be good.
Go to - its like THE torrent hub for docs.

you could try this one... (-1, Troll)

sjs132 (631745) | more than 6 years ago | (#23291358)

there is a new one out she may find interesting: []

It's a start, let her learn to think for herself.

Re:you could try this one... (1)

ceejayoz (567949) | more than 6 years ago | (#23291386)

If only it weren't full of lies...

Re:you could try this one... (3, Funny)

Clockwork Apple (64497) | more than 6 years ago | (#23291468)

If Ben Stein couldnt keep a highschool class awake, what good is he going to do for a seven year old? Anyone? Anyone?


Just tell him what the scientists tell us (2, Insightful)

croftj (2359) | more than 6 years ago | (#23291388)

It just happened! At one time there was nothing, an instant later there was everything in a very small space. In time that small space of everything expanded out to be the universe as we know it today.

  That should put everything in the perspective a 7 year old can understand and not be anything less than our scientists told us. It just happened!

Re:Just tell him what the scientists tell us (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23291622)

The original question is: "My 7-year-old daughter is asking ... 'How did everything get created?'

That's a very good question. All the "non-religious" explanations of the origin of the universe start out with the universe already here.

Look at PBS again. (4, Informative)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 6 years ago | (#23291406)

Search for "magic school bus" and they have an episode on the big bang.

in fact that tv show is good for chemistry, molecular physics, biology, etc....

Re:Look at PBS again. (1)

OAB_X (818333) | more than 6 years ago | (#23291574)

There's also the old-standby from the mid 90's Bill Nye the Science Guy. 100 30-min long "documentaries" on various topics. You can probably find VHS tapes of it at your local library, or maybe purchase them through Buena Vista Distribution (I believe that was the distributor of the show). Your local public school district might use them in the classroom as well, it was quite popular for that. The show is as far as I know, no longer in re-runs.

If you want a family gathering in front of the computer instead of the TV, you can probably find an entire collection of the whole series if you look hard enough at torrent aggregate sites. Usual legal warnings apply about downloading copyrighted material, if you don't know the law in your area talk to a laywer, IANAL.

Re:Look at PBS again. (1)

Hemogoblin (982564) | more than 6 years ago | (#23291590)

Magic Scoobus!? I love that show.

Re:Look at PBS again. (0, Flamebait)

tompaulco (629533) | more than 6 years ago | (#23291906)

So religion is to be feared and mocked, but it's still okay to teach kids that school buses can magically fly around the universe. Check.

Re:Look at PBS again. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23292036)

Also, Bill Nye, the Science Guy.

Any series by Albert Barillé (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23291424)

Any of the "Once upon a time..." by Albert Barillé are great.
Sure, some are a bit outdated and a bit wrong here or there,
but all in all, they're the best for kids that age.

The only thing that I know is this: (4, Insightful)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 6 years ago | (#23291432)

See, when we were growing up we didn't have science shows aimed at 7 year olds, so 7 year olds had to ask their parents or grandparents etc. And they chose the best answer they could find.

The best thing that you can do IMHO is to take your daughter in hand and go find the answer. She will learn two things at a minimum: The answer to the question as best as it can be answered, the fact that you care to do that for her, and the methods you use to find answers. That last one is way more important than you might think.

I used to hate hearing the words "go look it up" but it did lead to me looking for a lot of things... and finding them. When she learns from you HOW to look for answers, hopefully she will never stop looking for answers as long as she lives.

Growing Up In The Universe (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23291436)

Richard Dawkins explains it to the kids...,826,Growing-Up-in-the-Universe-2-Disc-DVD-Set,The-Richard-Dawkins-Foundation-for-Reason-and-Science

Re:Growing Up In The Universe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23291554)

The kid needs information, not indoctrination.

Re:Growing Up In The Universe (1)

dforsey (107707) | more than 6 years ago | (#23292004)

If you think Dawkins in indoctrination, then you better take your kids (and yourself) out of church and start waking up to what "rational discourse" means.

Magazines and the Public Library (3, Interesting)

anmida (1276756) | more than 6 years ago | (#23291438)

When I was growing up (which wasn't that long ago, really), my parents got me a Ranger Rick subscription as a very little kid. Then they got me Kids Discover which I read until I was 9 or so, I think. National Geographic is also really good, and Scientific American, for when she gets a little older. In addition, the public library should have some nice glossy picture books about the planets and other things. I would recommend that she read as opposed to watching TV; she'll become a better reader and you can really get lost in books, stare at the pictures and let your mind turn on all of it - take your time as opposed to being rushed along as films too often do. But films are good too :)

Try the PBS special anyway (1)

snooo53 (663796) | more than 6 years ago | (#23291464)

When I was really young, I watched a lot of shows that weren't geared towards my age group and still enjoyed them a lot. She may not get all the concepts but that's ok I think. Kids in general are a lot brighter than most people give them credit for. Most of the science specials these days go overboard to keep it simple anyway.

I got one (1, Insightful)

xhydra (1083949) | more than 6 years ago | (#23291484)

Barney and friends. Stop trying to overclock the tots brain (4, Informative)

SolitaryAnt (1284036) | more than 6 years ago | (#23291486)

"Growning up in the universe" is for children. It is available free online at the above adress and you can order dvds if you like.

If you can find it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23291530)

Bill Nye The Science Guy!

Not a title of a documentary per se (3, Informative)

...charc... (814679) | more than 6 years ago | (#23291538)

But a repository of good multimedia clips and lessons aimed at children of different ages: []

This site is run by the PBS station WGBH. You might be able to find footage of what you are looking for here and questions that could spark and interesting conversation between yourself and your child.

its all wrong (1)

kiwilake (1279808) | more than 6 years ago | (#23291542)

i hate the way science is taught to children. its all so wrong, for example, in primary school your taught that everything is made up of round spheres called atoms. in year 9 your told that its wrong and these spheres are actually made up of a small sphere with electrons orbiting them in concentric circles. alevel your again told that its wrong and the nucleus is made up of even small particles, and these electrons are in fact in energy levels and dont follow concentric circle orbits. get to undergraduate physics - hang on thats all wrong again, the electrons are fermions and follow exchange symmetry and theres wave functions. the nucleus isent a sphere and the electrons are everywhere in space due to proberbilitys. and i havent even started on graduate physics and superstrings. my advice - tell your child the truth from the beginning - it will confuse them a lot but they will thank you in the future :)

Developing ideas is important! (1)

ozzimark (562088) | more than 6 years ago | (#23291548)

ask her what she thinks, and try to nudge her responses in the right direction with specific questions. it's best for kids to try to form opinions for themselves before they become mindless sheep and accept everything that they're told

Slightly OT: "Parenting Beyond Belief" (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23291580)

My wife and I were just at a talk yesterday in Austin TX given by the author of Parenting Beyond Belief [] . Much more entertaining and insightful than the dry "freethinker" lecture I was sort of expecting. He mentioned Carl Sagan's Cosmos series, and also talked at length on how to prepare your kids for the inevitable playground encounter: "your parents don't believe in God? They're going to HELL!"

A golden opportunity (2, Insightful)

RogueWarrior65 (678876) | more than 6 years ago | (#23291584)

You've got a golden opportunity here. Give your kid a little more credit. They can understand a whole lot more than we adults think especially with your guidance. Maybe their attention span is shorter but then just stop the tape after 30 minutes and pick it up later. If their into the content they'll ask for more. Cosmos and Connections are great.

Cosmos (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23291628)


Let me say that again,

Cosmos with carl Sagan.

Beautiful wonderful series with Carl Segan.

They are kinda old, the science is on the edge of dated, the F/X are often paintings but the vision is compelling, the mysteries profound, the non-religious survey of creation deeper than you can imagine.

The series is available on DVD for some decent cash ($160?) but that's just three tanks of gas.

The blunt answer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23291632)

We don't really know and, because a lot of people make a living based on just coming up with far-fetched explanations, we will never know.

(Also, it's turtles all the way down.)

Kids TV has gone downhill (3, Informative)

RackinFrackin (152232) | more than 6 years ago | (#23291636)

It's too bad there's no modern equivalent of 3-2-1 Contact or Mr. Wizard's World. Both (and I'm sure some others) were good shows aimed at teaching kids science on a good level. Newton's Apple was excellent too, although it was not aimed solely at kids.

Bill Nye and Beakman (especially Beakman) were not as good because they were too interested in being flashy and funny and catering to kids with no attention spans.

I don't know if there's anything comparable on TV today.

Re:Kids TV has gone downhill (1)

witherstaff (713820) | more than 6 years ago | (#23291918)

Children's TV has gone downhill ever since Smurfs was canceled.

Take one of the more popular kid shows on now, Dora. You have Dora, which teaches that a little kid and a pet monkey can wander around, take trips with strangers, do dangerous things like climb mountains, without even asking a parent if it's OK.

Old, but brilliant... (4, Informative)

PinkyDead (862370) | more than 6 years ago | (#23291646)

The Life on Earth series from the BBC.

I know it's fairly local (i.e. our planet) - but it is inspiring.

The Planet Earth (2, Informative)

oratop (21415) | more than 6 years ago | (#23291656)

The Planet Earth series by Discovery channel or Planet Earth by the BBC might be a bit more interesting then a generic creationalism vs evolution debate. I thought the series was great because after each segment we talked as a family generically about how "things came to be" with the idea that the kids should get inspired to find their own answers.

Fast, Cheap, And Out Of Control (1)

Savatte (111615) | more than 6 years ago | (#23291664)

Errol Morris' documentary on nature/humanity/everything is facinating and compelling, and is sure to get both adults and children thinking. As a bonus, his documentaries don't skimp on the visuals, so you get lots more than just talking heads

Turtles (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23291670)

'How did everything get created?'

There isn't a good answer. Not because she's 7 but because there really isn't a good answer. There never will be.

We can explain how lots of things got to be the way they are. We can explain the evolution of species, we can explain the formation of planets we can have at least a decent go at the formation of star systems but ultimately, "how did everything get created" gets us to a point where we say "well there was this explosion / thing /potential / god / whatever and then..." and that's dodged the question because it doesn't explain where that thing came from or what caused it. There was some sort of potential for a big bang to happen and then it did? Fine, but the question was what created/ caused all this. The potential was there. Why was it there?

All it amounts to, and all it ever will amount to, is "Once upon a time there was stuff, and things have happened since then, but there's still stuff. The end."

Tell her it's a great question and you don't have the answer.

Mod parent up. Only good answer here. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23292038)

The child wants to know where she came from, what is "it" all about, etc?

The really big questions to which there are no real answers and if she doesn't get a satisfying answer from dad, she's going to get it from her little friend's preacher on some sleep over.

In fact that may be where her question came from in the first place.

I'm wholly unimpressed with dad's take on it and most of slashdot's as well.

Cosmos? Mr. Science Guy? Interesting but completely useless to this bright little girl. [] is another good one, too.

Ever considered honesty? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23291690)

I realize this is a bit unheard of, but you could just admit that:

1. nobody is 100% sure about it
2. there are a few sides to it
3. explain what you believe in, and maybe other sides if you want to.

Seven seems like a good time to start hinting that there are differences in viewpoints among people. It may teach her to start thinking about it herself instead of merely parroting what you believe. That, right there, is true intellectual growth -- regardless of which side she is on.

And when you're discussing it, don't talk down to her. I think a lot of adults talk down to children - both in content and tone of voice. Discussing 'adult' issues with children in a manner where they feel respected is very empowering.

Re:Ever considered honesty? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23291774)

(+5, Insightful). One of my most influential teachers in primary school had an unusual combination of characteristics: a literalist interpretation of the Bible combined with an open-minded approach to discussing alternatives, and allowing his 10-year-old students to debate all the hot topics (evolution, abortion, etc.) without insisting that his view was right beyond "yes, this is what I believe in".

It was beautiful. I grew to become a strong proponent of the scientific method, while remaining aware of its limitations:

1. practical - it progressively evolves better models - it is not designed to cough up the "right answer" at the start;

2. philosophical - the desire to ask "why?" ad inf. is at odds with causation, and we're nowhere near to resolving this;

3. human - even the brightest people make elementary slip-ups, or confront hoaxes, or run into conflicts of interest (global warming today, heliocentricity 400 years ago) that derail proper application of the method.

In summary, expose your child to the teachings of Dawkins, the Pope, and everyone in between. Explain what you believe, what you see your local culture to believe (there's no simple answer to that one), etc. But don't tell them "what is true" - ever. It's only your job to present the evidence.

Once upon a time ... Man (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23291692)

You can try these documentaries on dvd.
It was french made but everything has been translated to english.

Each episode of these animation series covers one specific subject or period of time, it may not cover exactly what you need right now and the first series are quite old (1978) but nevertheless it helped raise a generation of children.

Here is the credit title []

And the website of the producer where you can learn more about the different series. []

Make our children want to know, arouse their curiosity. Also treat them as people in their own right, who understand much more than adults would have us believe.They will be stronger for it and be grateful to you. -- Albert Barillé

WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23291696)

you're explaining that the universe started with the big bang? you need to worry about getting an elementary science education for yourself let alone your child. what a gimp.
it simply amazes me how so many slashdotters run around like they have a grasp on things and they obviously can't grasp simple concepts. saying that the big band simply happened and that it's the start of the universe has about as much scientific credibility as saying that there was a supreme being who willed the universe into existence.

Planetarium Possibilities (4, Insightful)

BearInTheWoods (783970) | more than 6 years ago | (#23291718)

Check your local planetarium, if possible. They often have shows geared to younger children.

I took my niece (then about 6 years old) to one a couple of times after she showed interest in star-gazing. I think these days, she (now 9 years old) might be better than me at picking out constellations!

Tell her the truth.... (2, Insightful)

Alien Being (18488) | more than 6 years ago | (#23291726)

Nobody knows.

Try to explain the difference between religion, fact, and theory. Then move on to children's versions of the "good books". Allow her to make her own decisions but stress that she's also allowed to change her mind.

Finally, go back to point one; nobody knows. She's no better than someone who adopts an alternate view.

Re:Tell her the truth.... (1)

mlawrence (1094477) | more than 6 years ago | (#23291914)

Will we ever know 100% Probably not. But right now we know 99% that we evolved. So I think it's fair to state it as fact, keeping in mind the fact can be debunked at any time.

Why not Man Up? (1)

espiesp (1251084) | more than 6 years ago | (#23291784)

So rather than putting your child in front of a mind numbing spirit crusing television set, or computer monitor. How about you do a little reading and teach her yourself?

Back in the old day, my dad taught me all the things about electronics and science the real way. Talk, drawings on paper, and home electronics and science kits which we worked on together.

So why not try the same? Too busy?

Kids can handle it (2, Interesting)

mrfantasy (63690) | more than 6 years ago | (#23291822)

My kid's 4 and a half and really enjoys any science documentary we throw at him, and seems to have decent retention. This is a problem when we were traveling recently and all we could find on the TV was a documentary on the ancient Aztecs and their propensity for human sacrifice. When talking about hearts later, he remembered that the Aztecs took out people's hearts. So you have to be careful, but any kid who's naturally inquisitive will probably enjoy any fact-based programming geared for any age, with a thoughtful parent to help interpret they parts they might not understand.

Words and books (1)

oo7tushar (311912) | more than 6 years ago | (#23291842)

I find too often that people turn too early to documentaries for answers. While your daughter's curiosity has been sparked you should guide her into starting research on the subject. Some may consider it too early but surely there are books that she can read and try to obtain answers and opinions from. If she doesn't understand some specific items she can come to you for clarification.

"Where did things come from" is a subject area that can't be simply answered and understood without more investigation. While everybody wants a simple answer she's probably far too young and inexperienced to be satisfied with a simple answer. On the flip side there is concern if she's content with a simple answer.

Now is the time to launch her on the path of discovery and awareness without relying on the limited knowledge within a documentary.

Eyewitness (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23291854)

I would recommend the Eyewitness [] series. I recall enjoying them when I was younger. The downside is that they're not yet released on DVD (according to Wikipedia).

Once Upon a Time... Life (1)

Halo1 (136547) | more than 6 years ago | (#23291874)

Not about the big bang etc, but as for biology this is a great series: []

As the user comment on imdb says: "This animation TV series is simply the best way for children to learn how the human body works. Yes, this is biology but they will never tell it is." That's exactly how I remember it from when I saw it (and at the same time, a lot of the information stuck and came back later on when I learned about those topics in school).

There's a related one about space ( [] ), but as far as I remember that was less edutainment and more pure entertainment.

The "Once upon a time..." series (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23291878)

There were several french animated series by the name "Once upon a time...", each focussing on a different subject, mostly historical ones. "Space" may not be what you are looking for (it's bordering a space opera), but "Life," at least is highly informative. []

7 y.o. boy watches... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23291890)

I have a 7 year old boy and he LOVES

The Universe -- from the History ch
and from time to time NOVA on PBS

Also APOD... Great site

Try reading (1)

Silver Sloth (770927) | more than 6 years ago | (#23291894)

The Horrible science [] books are fantastic for youngsters and have an added bonus of improving reading skills. Unfortunately they may not be available in the US.

Solving the wrong problem... (1)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | more than 6 years ago | (#23291896)

Education comes from the latin word Educo, which means "draw out, lead out, march out, to foster." Instead of indoctrinating with the current status quo of whatever theory is popular this day of the week, it would be better to guide them to their own answers. You want to encourage her strength of intution -- she knows the destination, but doesn't how to get there, which is where you fit in as a father.

Think of the children! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23291902)

I understand that you want your child to believe what you want her to believe, but don't you think she should be allowed to think for herself? Yes, by all means, show her the scientific documentaries. But also let her read religious texts and go to church, as well as watch religious videos. Regardless of what I, you, or anyone else thinks is correct, she should be allowed to decide for herself. In other words, next time she asks, "how did everything get created," say, "well, no one really knows. Some people say this, other people say this."

Once Upon a Time... Men (1)

alewar (784204) | more than 6 years ago | (#23291904)

I enjoyed the french animated series One Upon a Time... Men [] at that age! Really wonderful stuff for young kids.

'Growing Up in the Universe' by Richard Dawkins (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23291912)

Good content and explanations--not "kids stuff" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23291924)

Don't assume automatically that certain material is too sophisticated for children simply because it has been developed for older people. Look for scientific content and good explanations in multimedia format. The combination of video and narration is particularly good for concept development in learners with little background knowledge--and perfect for seven-year-olds, who would be hampered in their reading comprehension if given a book. Curious seven year olds can benefit from short bits of NOVA videos. The key is to watch in short bits and to discuss. Don't just sit the kids down in front of the TV and leave for an hour. Remember that you don't have to even watch the whole thing. A good website that has been developed for intellectually curious youth is It's associated with Johns Hopkins University and its Center for Talented Youth. If you go to the sites section and enter "big bang," a university site on the cosmos is suggested. The beginning of this video might be just right for your child's initial question. Encourage curiosity, display your own sense of wonder, and don't push.

Observe your daugher carefully (4, Interesting)

Qbertino (265505) | more than 6 years ago | (#23291926)

I don't know your daughter and wether she is a potential savant or not. Asking such questions at the age of 7 could indicate that. However, it is more likely that she's just like any other child. Meaning that at about the age she is in, normal healthy children ask questions for the sake of asking questions. They practice the task of asking. You can observe this when they repeat a question or when they inmediately follow up with another question without really pondering your last answer that much. Because they really can't fathom what you're saying actually. It's the general process of Q&A their interested in. That doesn't mean you should lie - just stick to answers that are low on the abstract and rich on images. And - honestly now - screw any conserved media. A wildlife documentary around the age of 10 or so every once and a while is ok - but it's not before well into teenage that children can really gain knowledge from these. Other means of education are far more important before that.

By far the biggest screwup of modern western education - with huge, seemingly unrelated consequences for society - is that it treats kids under teenage and even teenagers far to much like intellectually fully developed grown-ups. Appealing to pure reason and logic in a 7-year old does more damage than good, with consequences that show up far later in life (lack of will and motivation, concentration problems, undeveloped social skills, restlessness, etc. - we geek kids of the 80ties know all this). If here questions are of the usual nature (her *praticing* the process of questioning!) then see it as a game and follow along, even if it turns into seemingly strange circular Q&A sessions. Ask her repeating questions in return yourself - she's praticing the act of questioning, the subject hardly matters ("Where do you live?" and a few other related questions repeatadly asked and answered, is a classic for this sort of thing). You'll actually notice that this questioning goes away after a while and comes back during the teenages if it was dealt with appropriately at younger age.

The first specs of true scientific interest come at the age of about 9. And then a trip to the library or the zoo or a science park and you sticking to personal and live explainations (that needant be all that scientifically detailed) of real phenomenon (weather, "Where do rivers come from?" "How can a car drive?", etc.) are all she needs. And don't worry - if you give her the right kind of education at the right time, she'll be a bright kid all by herself when her intellect and her strength for own reasoning fully awakes. Usually at the age of adolescence - as parents all around the world know very well. In fact, her reasoning will be far more healthy and her own if she doesn't get intellectually challenged to early in life. And it will be supported by a healthy own will, if she has the correct treatment as a child to look back on. There are other things children need to develop before they can develop a healthym intellectual reasoning. It's for that exact reason that the question "What would you like?" often is totally misplaced towards a toddler or small child.

And FYI: Yes, that is an essential conclusion of waldorf education. An educational methodology sometimes considered heretic by other educational trends. I've found it to be spot on. Make you own experiences, but do your and your sibling a favour and don't burry your kid in all kinds of media to early before you know what's really going on.

My 2 cents as a father of a 10 year old daughter.

Try this ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23291938)

A long, long time ago ... in fact around seventy-five million years ago, Xenu was the ruler of a Galactic Confederacy which consisted of 26 stars and 76 planets including Earth, which was then known as Teegeeack. The planets were overpopulated, each having an average population of 178 billion.[1][2][3] The Galactic Confederacy's civilization was comparable to our own, with aliens "walking around in clothes which looked very remarkably like the clothes they wear this very minute" and using cars, trains and boats looking exactly the same as those "circa 1950, 1960" on Earth ...

Click here [] for more enlightenment ...

Once upon a time series (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#23291948)

Il était une fois... l'espace
Once upon a time...

A great animated series, i loved it when i was a kid. Made me want to know more.

youtube has some clips

Vid on Metacafe (1)

RJFerret (1279530) | more than 6 years ago | (#23291956) []

Heh, dot, explosion, expansion... (Parent's still aren't going to give you the money...)

But seriously, one of the nice things growing up in an learned family, was not having things "dumbed down". Add to that a more sophisticated video can be watched again in the future with a greater understanding of the more advanced concepts.

robert krampf (1)

zeropash (1137419) | more than 6 years ago | (#23291974)

though not related to the question asked, i think this was good. [] the only think i would wish he did differently was to give answers in another video - I think more than the answer what is important is that the kids learn to ask questions and find theories (their own even if they are not right) and you could help questioning those. i dont like the documentary approach to help get answers to the kids curious questions.

Royal Institution of Great Britain (1)

dizzykj (1091165) | more than 6 years ago | (#23291976)

The RI does a series of Christmas lectures for children and young people - they've been going for years - I imagine that you can probably get videos of them, or at least download them.

I was going to suggest Bill Nye (1)

Kadoo (822109) | more than 6 years ago | (#23291984)

I was going to suggest Bill Nye but then I went to the Disney store and was shocked at the prices. Bill Nye the Science Guy Enhanced Classroom Edition DVD Complete Series (DVD) $3249.00. Time Enhanced Classroom Edition (DVD) $49.95. The discs better be gold-pressed latinum. Unfortunately, Bill Nye never did an episode on extortion. Might as well get the kid the complete series of Sopranos for $120.

Carl Sagan's Cosmos series (1)

JTMoon (952394) | more than 6 years ago | (#23292026)

Carl Sagan's "Cosmos: A Personal Voyage" series is so visually beautiful, poetically narrated, and well paced that I think even a 7 year old would like it.
Sagan provides excellent narration over insightful visual presentations of his ideas. And he has a calm, rational and personable demeanor that is almost soothing (somewhat Bob Ross like). It's easy to end up watching most of the series in 2 or 3 sittings.

Carl Sagan has an exploratory and curious thinking style with which he patiently narrates and so the viewer naturally follows him along his trail of reasoning. And the visual presentation of ideas is insightful (watch for the DNA building scene).
Kids won't understand the entire show and I think that's fine, it's a big subject to perfectly understand in one sitting. If your kid really enjoys it, she'll want to watch it over and over again, thus will retain more with those repeated viewings.

Cosmos would be my first choice for a mature yet kid-friendly presentation on the origins of life.

Make your own videos! (1)

zogger (617870) | more than 6 years ago | (#23292044)

If you think that there is a lack of science videos suitable for young folks, go ahead, make them yourself then upload to googtube. Your kids will then think you are *cool* as well. I suggest copying Mr. Lizard and blow some stuff up in every episode, this will insure they pay attention. It won't matter the subject, everything in science has a potential to be blown up! %^)
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