Cyberspace is a children's cartoon on PBS. The series centers on three kids — white farmboy Matt, token black girl Jackie, and token Hispanic girl Inez — who must protect Cyberspace from
Hacker The Hacker, an evil green man who bears a resemblance to Elvis. Assisting the kids is Digit, a wisecracking cyborg dodo bird with a scratchy voice. Using STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) skills, the four are able to beat Hacker at his game every time.
Cyberchase was created as a last-ditch attempt to catch the American youth up with STEM. Previously, the National Science Foundation wanted to jump the gun and get right into the Science, Technology, and Engineering – basically an animated version of Bill Nye the Science Guy. Not a bad idea, but in the midst of an ADHD epidemic, serious thought was instead put into creating a world rich with detailed landscapes, accumulative curricula, and multidimensional characters. Of course, such radical ideas were met with initial opposition.
Despite being aimed at children, Cyberchase has also gained an audience of teens and young adults, mainly due to its edutainment value, nostalgic factor (it's been on since the early 2000s), and the unexpected voice talents of Christopher Lloyd, Gilbert Gottfried, Al Roker, and even Tony Hawk.
Matt's Father: "Mud-wrestling pigs, playing with his yo-yo, watching Star Wars, and listening to Will Smith — that’s all my Matt ever does. Oh, mathematics. The poor lad would get more money step-dancing to a tin whistle in the subway. You are familiar with the notion that all descendants of working-class foreigners are absolutely incapable of learning. It’s true. So good luck trying to teach my boy your fancy hullabaloo, because I know he’ll be running back to the farm before you know it, and with any luck, he’ll learn his numbers at the checkout counter buying POTATOES for the family."
Jackie’s Drama Teacher: "I can’t help but feel as if this mathematics program is an extraneous addition to Jackie’s career. She is destined to be a world famous celebrity as soon as she gets out of elementary school, and I seriously doubt she’ll need to know how to add fractions once she wins the hearts of Black America’s youth. In fact, I don’t even need to listen to you. I’ve seen her sing, I’ve seen her dance, and she has what it takes to get to the top. Want an autographed scrunchie?"
Inez's Accelerated ELA Program: "Ostensibly, the particular notion of the extra-dimensional aspect of lower-discipline mathematics may indeed be one worth prospecting, yet I must venture a premonition of the foreboding physical detail into this assignment. It strikes me of great concern that Inez, a young prepubescent with a uniquely gifted specialization in the intelligence quotient as compared to that of her peers, may find some lack of mental stimulation in lieu of the intensive physical exertions. As such, I strongly discourage her participation in said event."
Day 50: "For some bizarre reason, Cyberspace is not listed as a valid location for foreign immersion programs. Apparently, Mount Olympus doesn’t have mythological deities roaming about, Egyptian tombs do not contain ROM, and real aquariums aren’t made out of food. Like it matters — kids saved an entire alternate universe from an evil cyborg and they can’t even put it on their college app.
Taught the kids 'algebra' and 'combinatorial theory' in hopes of getting more funding. However, parents also think children are ready for calculus after five shows. Worst case scenario, we have this: “Calculus – Sometimes you can solve problems by thinking of the answer as a very accurate estimate.” Hopefully, this lesson can be tied in to a robot dinosaur planet or something.
Must introduce new villains every now and then, starting with Wicked, a generic evil love interest for the generic evil cyborg. In retrospect, if Hacker wasn't so evil, there wouldn't be a need for so many excuse plots. For that matter, if Motherboard wasn't so creepy-looking, the world might be a better place."
- Body Math – Some parts of a body are proportional to others – the length of one part is always the same multiple of another – so by measuring one part, you can predict the lengths of others, or even the size of the whole creature!
- Counter Examples – When people use words like always, never, all or none to claim that something is true, be suspicious! Such claims are often false, and you need only a single counterexample to disprove them.
- Ballpark Estimation – To be confident about your solution to a problem, make sure the answer is reasonable — that it's "in the ballpark."
- Line Graphs – You can use a line graph to tell a story about how things change, and to make predictions.
- Point of View – Because what you see depends on your point of view, different people looking at the same objects can see them differently and disagree about what they are seeing.
- Algebra – When you use a letter to stand in for a number that repeats or changes in a problem, you can simplify the arithmetic and make the problem easier to solve.
- Combinations – Overwhelmed by choices? Lists, tables and tree diagrams help you master the combinations.