www.whyville.net Feb 7, 2002 Weekly Issue

Staff Writer

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Watch the shows and let me know what you think. Email me, the MediaWiz of Whyville!

Click here for an index of this week's shows. And now, the Media Menu!

Friday, February 8

"XIX Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony" (NBC, 7:30pm-11pm ET, 8-11pm PT) Only a grinch would suggest that you watch anything but this program on this evening. But what you'll see may be instructive as well as fun. Just try wrapping your mind around the technical problems the event designers faced while thinking up all those special effects. What mental gymnastics, what apparent defiance of the laws of physics and what super efficient use of dollars went into this gigantic party-favor for the World!

Saturday, February 9

"Olympic Figure Skating" (NBC, 8-11:30pm ET, 7:30-11 PT) Here's where you get a real good excuse to watch TV and say it's for learning science and math. Watch the Skating Pairs Short Competition category today, or a few of the other skating competitions, and log on to the Whyville skating game to sharpen your scientific understanding of how these athletes manage their spin, consciously using the laws of physics. (This month, you'll hear skaters interviewed in the media sometimes talking about the physics of their work. Time Magazine has an article entitled "Get Ready For Spin City", accessible online at www.time.com/time/olympics2002/profiles/skate1.html, and CNN's "People In The News" at 1:30 ET/4:30 PT profiles 16 year-old U.S. figure skater Sarah Hughes.)

"Voyage Of The Nautilus" (National Geographic Channel, 9-10pm E/P) Now here's a dangerous idea -- which I'm safe in mentioning because you won't be able to try this at home: Buy a surplus WWI (that's o-n-e) submarine with leakage problems and set out to explore the ocean underneath the ice cap that covers the North Pole. In this documentary program you'll see Australian explorer Sir Hubert Wilkins did in 1931. (People have to be very, very resourceful and brave to get though this sort of science experiment.)

"The Middle Passage" (HBO, 10-11:30pm E/P) Airing during African American History Month, this movie is based on historical accounts from slaves who survived the horrible conditions aboard the slave ships that brought them in chains from Africa to the Americas -- in this typical case, aboard a French cargo ship. Written by acclaimed novelist Walter Mosley, the film is rated TV-14 because of the some graphic scenes depicting what the slaves experienced. Repeats on HBO on February 13, 18, 22 and 24.

Sunday, February 10

"A Walk In Your Shoes" (Nickelodeon Network and Noggin Network, 8:30-9pm ET, 5:30-6 PT) This episode of a dramatic series designed to help kids understand other cultures follows a 13 year-old suburban Boston Protestant girl as she explores the life of Mariam, a 13 year-old Muslim girl from northern New Jersey. For an accompanying website about Muslims in the U.S., log on www.matusa.org.

"Zoot Suit Riots" (PBS, 9-10pm E/P) Hector Elizondo narrates this "American Experience" documentary about a summer of violence that erupted in Los Angeles at the beginning of WWII. Anti-Mexican mobs which included thousands of white soldiers and sailors attacked residents of L.A.'s "barrios" following a murder trial which involved Latinos. What we now call 'racial profiling' was practiced by the white mobs, which attacked Mexican-American youths who wore "hip" clothing called zoot suits. A superb film, "Zoot Suit", made of the stage play on this topic by Luis Valdez and starring Edward James Olmos, is available on video.

Monday, February 11

"CNN Student News" (CNN, 4:30-5 am ET, 1:30-2am PT) This is definitely a case where you or your parents will have to set the VCR to capture this show. But it will be worth it, because today -- as well as Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at this time -- this CNN newsmagazine for students will look at the scientific aspects of Olympic sports. Examples: Tuesday covers the effect of mountain altitude on performance and Thursday's topic is physics of snowboarding. (Bringing in a tape of shows like this to your science teacher to use might earn you a little extra credit.)

Tuesday, February 12

"Bioterror" (PBS 8-9pm E/P -- also check local listings) This "Nova" documentary follows three New York Times reporters as they delve into the past U.S. bio-weapons research and try to find out what's being done to cope with the current threat of anthrax and other bio-attacks. An accompanying website www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/bioterror explains how the world's first vaccine, invented in 1796, used pustules from diseased cows to protect humans from smallpox. The site also has an interactive feature where you can find out how six different types of vaccines are made. You may want to watch this because you never know -- something like this might even happen in Whyville!

Wednesday, February 13

"Secrets Of The Colosseum" (Discovery Channel, 9-10pm E/P) The trademark structure in the middle of Rome is still "colossal" by modern standards, even though it was built without any sort of modern machinery but rather by a bunch of hand-tool-wielding geniuses in sandals who had taught themselves the very basics of engineering. This documentary uses computer graphics to take apart and re-assemble the Colosseum so you we learn some things in an hour that took the Romans a lifetime to figure out. Lucky us. And I mean that.

"A Fragile Freedom: African-American Historic Sites" (History Channel, 10-11pm E/P) This documentary explores eight unique African-American historic sites in Boston, New York, Jacksonville FL and Washington DC., revealing the surprising strength of these communities during the 1800's.

Thursday, February 14

"Longitude" (A&E Network, 9-11pm E/P) This is a movie based on a scientific contest -- a life and death matter of trying to figure out how to navigate at sea once you've left sight of the shore. Two hundred years ago, the English put up money for anyone who could design a working "chronometer" (a clock what would accurate time while being tossed around at sea) so people could match up sun and star observations with accurate time data and, to put it simply, figure where the heck they were at. Thousands of ships, including whole Navy fleets, had been lost or sunk because they didn't know their location accurately enough. In Dava Sobel's historically accurate techno-thriller "Longitude", on which this movie's based, she tells how a brilliant, misunderstood fellow fought the scientific establishment and solved the problem all by himself. If you want to try your own hand at collecting data giving longitude and latitude, log on to www.whyville.net/sun/sunTracker.html or www.whyville.net/cgi-bin/sunhuntStart.cgi.

"Marriage: Just a Piece of Paper?" (PBS, 10-11:00pm E/P) This documentary goes beyond the traditional conservative and liberal battles over the state of the American family and addresses the difficult question of marriage itself, inviting viewers into intimate life stories of the happily married and the sadly divorced.


Friday, February 8
    XIX Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony

Saturday, February 9
    Olympic Figure Skating
    Voyage of the Nautilus
    The Middle Passage

Sunday, February 10
    A Walk In Your Shoes
    Zoot Suit Riots

Monday, February 11
    CNN Student News

Tuesday, February 12

Wednesday, February 13
    Secrets Of The Colosseum
    A Fragile Freedom: African-American Historic Sites

Thursday, February 14
    Marriage: Just a Piece of Paper?


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