I am thoroughly smitten with the new They Might Be Giants kids' album, Here Comes Science, which ships with a charming DVD of videos and supplementary material. In the best traditions of awesome educational kids music -- Schoolhouse Rock, the Animaniacs, Electric Company -- Here Comes Science combines top-notch pop music with humor that's aimed at both kids and adults (I once heard the creators of Sesame Street discuss how the inclusion of humor targeted at adults meant that grownups were more likely to watch with the kids, and thus be on hand to answer questions and discuss the material; this should be gospel for everyone who makes media for kids). And, of course, the material is great. Better than great. Perfect. This is the album They Might Be Giants was put on Earth to record: they are genuine science nerds, and it shows.
For Here Comes Science contains a broad, inclusive and thought-provoking tour through science in all its facets. Songs like "Science is Real" (which explains how scientific beliefs are different from beliefs in unicorns and other beliefs formed without rigorous testing) and "Put It To the Test" (possibly the best kids' song ever written about falsifiablity in hypothesis formation) cover the basics, the big Philosophy of Science questions.
Then there's songs for all the major disciplines: "Meet the Elements," "I am a Paleontologist" (also delving into the joys of a science career), "My Brother the Ape," "How Many Planets," and the diptych formed by "Why Does the Sun Shine?" (stars considered as superheated gas) and "Why Does the Sun Really Shine?" (stars considered as superheated plasma) -- these last two are a brilliant look into how different paradigms have different practical and theoretical uses. "Photosynthesis," "Cells" "Speed and Velocity" -- you get the picture.
Finally, there's some jaunty little numbers about technology: "Computer Assisted Design," and "Electric Car" and one genuinely silly and delightful track, "The Ballad of Davy Crockett (In Outer Space)." (I haven't enjoyed an "in outer space" reworking of a beloved classic so much since "Josie and the Pussycats In Outer Space").
These songs definitely address themselves to an older audience than the last two TMBG kids' discs, Here Come the 123s and Here Come the ABCs, but if you've got kids who started with these two, they're certainly ready to move up to Here Comes Science. And even if you don't, I defy you not to rock out to this excellent disc.
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I write books. My latest is a YA science fiction novel called Homeland (it's the sequel to Little Brother). More books: Rapture of the Nerds (a novel, with Charlie Stross); With a Little Help (short stories); and The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow (novella and nonfic). I speak all over the place and I tweet and tumble, too.