I hate to speak ill of children’s entertainers, but the more I think about it, the more it bugs me: the science in Ellen Chorley’s The Tortoise and the Hare is terrible. So much so that it kind of ruined the good parts of the show (the performances, the dazzling effects).
In it, the hare is a high-maintenance businesswoman who is hellbent on finding the best fuel source for Storyland’s satellite launch. She’s going to do it by any means necessary, which in this context means toxicity and greenhouse gasses be damned. The tortoise is trying to find a renewable source. Fine, a good message!
However, when the renewable resource ends up being LIQUID SUNSHINE mixed– slowly, natch– into a mysterious photoshynthesis-making solution that creates AIR to propel the rocket, well… I kind of lost it.
Air is not the primary product of photosynthesis. In the simplest of terms, sugar is. Sugar, which burns. Or ferments. They could’ve gone the biofuels route. But AIR? Seriously? Compressed air? And they had to simulate photosynthesis to get it?
Here’s how they could’ve made it awesome: instead of focussing on the product of the research, they could’ve written it as about the process. As in, the tortoise follows proper scientific method: experimentation, followed by careful repetition to see if there are consistent results. Science is all about slow and steady, so it would’ve been perfect. They almost went this route, but no.
It’s a real shame. It’s not OK to lie to kids, even if you think that the message to your story is good. If the message of the Tortoise and the Hare is to be careful and accurate, well, it’s undermined by the sloppy science. It’s kind of disrespectful to fudge the facts so much, especially when the show is all about taking the time to do it right.