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'Dragonfly TV' Adds MTV-Style Zip to Science


OXFORD, Ohio — "Dragonfly TV," the new PBS science series for children, looks a lot like an MTV video to some adults.

"This stuff moves fast, and it has incessant music," said executive producer Richard Hudson.

"Dragonfly TV" comes from Twin Cities Public Television, producer of the long-running "Newton's Apple," and is based on a children's magazine developed at Miami (Ohio) University. The show is aimed at 9- to 12-year olds and has youngsters as hosts.

"Kids ask questions and then look for answers on their own," Michael, one of the first-name-only hosts, explained in the initial episode, which premiered last Sunday on KCET. The show elicits science questions from kids, and producers then film kids carrying out experiments that often are based on vigorous activities such as martial arts, kayaking and rock climbing.

The photography is slick, the editing fast, the music current. In the first show, youngsters tried to find out why so many boulders are in whitewater rapids, how a whale is weighed and how to get more power behind a taekwondo kick.

Dragonfly magazine is the model. Now distributed to 200,000 homes as an insert in Scientific American's Explorations magazine, Dragonfly originated as "a magazine for young investigators" and featured environmental stories written by children.

"Kids are natural investigators, and what they remember is what they investigate on their own," said Chris Myers, the former editor-in-chief of Dragonfly. "Kids see the world in much different ways than adults do."

Myers and the magazine's other creators serve as advisors to "Dragonfly TV" and prepare a teaching guide for each program. Teachers are encouraged to tape the shows and replay them for students. Discussion guides will be distributed to classrooms by the National Science Teachers Assn.

"Teachers are crying out for science programs they can use in their classrooms, programs that kids will actually watch," said Gerry Wheeler, the group's executive director. "'Dragonfly TV' packages good science in a way that really appeals to kids."

"DragonflyTV" can be seen Sundays at 8 a.m. on KCET-TV.

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