Beak Experience

Amazing. For six years (an eternity in TV time), there was a hilarious, loud, wild, entertaining and educational show on TV every Saturday morning. Beakman's World was a completely unique experience. These folks were getting away with actual creativity right under the network's noses! Think Mr. Wizard filtered through Pee-wee's Playhouse. There has never been a kids' science show so enjoyed by adults as well. The fast-paced humor and "ain't-this-cool!" approach to explaining the world made for an intelligent and fun half-hour.

You'll have the rare opportunity to visit Beakman's laboratory up close and personal this weekend when Beakman's World visits the Scottsdale Center for the Arts. What the heck, you could even bring the kids.

By phone from the lab, he who is Beakman spoke of the show's appeal to all ages. He's found that "52 percent of his audience has always been adults." It's usually a case of parents sitting down to watch the program with their children and discovering Beakman's multilevel humor.

"It's much more like a Warner Bros. Looney Tunes cartoon than a Disney cartoon," he points out. Plus "adults watching the show know they'll get it. A lot of us find science impenetrable, so they figure if it's designed for kids, 'I'm probably gonna get it, no problem.'"

When asked why the subject of science scares off so many people, he points to the method of education. "When I was a kid, I was taught it by rote memorization. There was very little connection made between science and the world we inhabited."

"What we do on the show is ask, 'What are children interested in?' To start with, they are interested in bodily functions."

Which leads to the classic question of our times: What is snot? "That's a great avenue to get them to understand that it's not just a between-meals snack; it's also sticky stuff that works as a filter to keep dust and germs from entering your body." Thus enlightened, kids will continue to ask about themselves and their surroundings.

"What we hope to do is reopen doors to learning that have been locked shut. It's not so intimidating. In fact, it can be sort of fun."

--David Gofstein

Beakman's World is performed at 1 p.m. Saturday, May 1, at Scottsdale Center for the Arts, 7380 East Second Street. Tickets are $14. 480-994-2787 (SCA), 480-784-4444 (Ticketmaster).

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David Gofstein