Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

The Science of Imagineering LEVERS and PULLEYS

The Science of Imagineering LEVERS and PULLEYS

Spring 2009 DVD
Ages: 9 - 14 yrs.
DVD Price: $49.95
Walt Disney's famous quote "If you dream it, you can do it" opens this look at how simple machines are behind some of Disney's most popular theme park attractions, including Dumbo the Flying Elephant, Soarin' Over California, and the Typhoon Lagoon wave pool. While this DVD features the superior production values you'd expect, one feature is a standout: the show is hosted by a real engineer, or in Disney parlance, an Imagineer.

Asa Kalama is not an actor, instantly giving him credibility with young viewers. He is young, cool (not a clich├ęd lab coat in sight), has warm screen presence, and breaks down scientific principles into something that's interesting and accessible. "Levers and pulleys can give you super-human strength," he says, before posing a problem to the audience: how can he move a 600-pound audio-animatronic tiki out of his office? (Mr. Tiki is a wisecracking sidekick in the Disney tradition, but I couldn't help wishing its actuators would lock.) Stick-figure cartoons illustrate the principles being taught, with labeled diagrams showing where the resistance, fulcrum, and effort are located in each example, and are used again at the end to review the material.

Though the science was over the head of my youngest viewer (age 5), he sat enthralled through the program along with his second-grade brother, who has had lessons on simple machines in school. While the expense (fifty dollars for a 25 minute program) might put some families off from purchasing, it's a program that might well inspire kids to want to become engineers-or Imagineers-when they grow up. (Note to parents: don't throw away your kids' erector sets. One Imagineer used his old toy to create the model for Soarin' Over California.)

Reilly Reagan   ©2009 Parents' Choice
Reilly Reagan, M.L.S. is a librarian and teacher currently working as a full-time mom. She has been reviewing media since 1991, writing for Library Journal and Video Librarian magazines. Her eight-year old and five-year-old sons enjoy helping with critiques.

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Disney Educational Productions

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