NOVA’s recent special, “Hunting The Elements” is one of the show’s most enjoyable episodes yet. This episode of PBS’ hit series isn’t just an episode of NOVA. It mixes in elements of Discovery Channel’s hit series, “Dirty Jobs.” And it’s a great tool for both high school and college level chemistry level chemistry courses.
“Hunting The Elements” is hosted by David Pogue. It takes viewers on a journey across the entire periodic table of elements. What really makes this episode of NOVA interesting is how it aims to simplify the table for viewers, rather than come across as a visual classroom. In each segment, viewers see the periodic table light up somewhere close by Pogue. It serves as a reminder for viewers throughout each segment of what element is being discussed. One of the key pieces of the discussion in this episode is actually very brief. But it’s equally important. That key piece is the revelation that the symbol for each element on the table is actually based on each element’s Latin name. This may come across as something that doesn’t really play much role. But many younger chemistry students ask exactly what Pogue asked about that relationship between the two. Teachers and students alike will also appreciate the segment showing the actual physical periodic table that comes complete with the physical elements contained therein for association. This is a brilliant tool for teaching.
“Hunting The Elements” clocks in at roughly two hours in length. During that time it makes a valid attempt to cover as much of the periodic table as possible. Being that it is two hours long, that still isn’t enough time to cover the entire table. This isn’t an entirely bad thing, though. Rather than try to cover everything and be a glorified classroom setting, the program really tries to simplify everything and entertain audiences at the same time. This is a big bonus to the program. It does manage to be entertaining and educational at the same time, making for a great program to which any teacher could refer throughout the course of an academic year. Teachers wouldn’t have to rely on the entire program for one class. Each element could be spread out throughout a school calendar as one part of a class each day. PBS is to be commended for this. “Hunting The Elements” is available now on blu-ray and DVD. It can be ordered direct via PBS’ website, http://www.shoppbs.org.
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