Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Rough Science: Reality TV As It Should Be

I stumbled on this old post on CoolTools talking about Rough Science. Here's how Cool Tool describes it:

A very cool BBC series wherein the crafty producers take a bunch of scientists and technicians to a remote location and have them recreate sophisticated tools and inventions using only the primitive materials on hand. Vines, wood, bits of metal, shells. Here: make a clock (with bell), or a device to record sounds, or how about a camera, microscope, soap and sunblock?; or go survey and map the island -- using tools of your own construction. You don't know science until you can roll your own.

And wouldn't you know it, someone has uploaded the episodes to YouTube. The quality is awful, and this is reality TV, so the acting is a bit cheesy. But, it's awesome none the less. First off, the concept of exploring science by rudimentary problem solving is just so powerful. The challenges are mind boggling (map an island in 3 days without using any survey equipment, or even pen and paper), and the solutions wonderfully clever. And the atmosphere of team building, creativity and learning from failure, makes this the kind of TV you really want to watch.

Forget watching castaways eat slimy bugs. Watch them figure out their latitude and longitude, it's much more rewarding (and educational!).

Here, watch an episode:

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