Air Times: PBS, check local listings
Episode Length: 2 stories per 30 minute episode
Target Age Group: 5-8 years
Network: PBS KIDS GO!
Cyberchase - Overview
The animated PBS KIDS GO! cartoon Cyberchase takes kids on cyberspace adventures in which mathematics is key to stopping the evil Hacker and his selfish schemes. The CyberSquad team members - earthlings Jackie, Matt and Inez and a bird named Digit - use their mathematical and problem-solving skills to overcome challenges and foil Hacker. At the end of each episode, a live-action segment called Cyberchase For Real shows kids a real-world example of the mathematical concept featured in the story.
Cyberchase - Curriculum
In each episode of Cyberchase, the CyberSquad uncovers an evil plot Hacker has devised. Determined to stop the evil nemesis, the team runs to the rescue of Cyberspace and its inhabitants. Of course, the team always encounters some sort of challenge in their efforts to save Cyberspace, and they must use a mathematical concept in order to overcome the problem. One concept is taught in each episode, and the kids model problem-solving skills as they formulate a plan for using the mathematical tool and then carry out their plan in order to overcome the challenge.
Cyberchase - Guide Review
Educationally, Cyberchase delivers. The show takes a mathematical skill or concept and turns it into the key to saving Cyberspace. The simple mathematical idea is usually explained well and woven throughout the story in a fun and interesting way. As the CyberSquad works to beat Hacker, the team members exemplify problem-solving techniques while deciding upon and employing the featured mathematical principle. Viewing children can easily learn from the example in the cartoon story, and also from the reiteration of the concept in the Cyberchase For Real segment that follows each episode.
The Cyberchase cartoon is also very kid friendly. The worst word/phrase I have heard used is when Hacker calls his robots "dunce buckets," which, if kids imitate, will probably cause adults to laugh rather than be concerned.
Also, Hacker's plots are not generally violent. Although his endgame is to destroy the motherboard, in the show episodes he is usually after some scientific or other type of item that he thinks will help him. Thus, once again, PBS has given kids a safe and very educational option for TV time.
Cyberchase - Expand Upon the Curriculum
- Fortunately, the Cyberchase format makes it easy for parents and teachers to use each mathematical principle in a similar way with a game or activity. For example, in one episode the CyberSquad comes up with a code so that Hacker will not understand their communications. After the show was over, I made a simple code by numbering the letters of the alphabet. I then gave the "secret decoder sheet" to my 5-year-old along with a numerical message. She used the sheet to figure out the letters and read the message. She then spent the rest of the afternoon writing secret coded messages for everyone she knew. Not only did she learn about codes, but she also got in a ton of spelling practice.
- Visit the Cyberchase website to find tons of great games, activities and supplemental material for kids, parents and educators.