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A Series of 10 Programs Series
Rough Science

10-part series in which five scientists on a tropical island cooperate to solve a series of scientific challenges using only their knowledge, ingenuity, and whatever is at hand.

A printer-friendly version of this page 290 minutes
Closed Captioned

Directed by Sarah Topalian and David Shulman
Produced by BBC and The Open University
Executive Producer: Karen O'Connor
Series Producer: Steve Evanson
Presented by Kate Humble
A WETA presentation of a production of The Open University and the BBC

"ROUGH SCIENCE may be the most fun anyone ever had learning science." St. Louis Post Dispatch
Two physicists, a botanist, a biologist, and a chemist are transported to an isolated island where they must work together to solve a series of challenges. Removed from their laboratories full of high-tech instruments and extensive supplies, they must rely on their collective knowledge, ingenuity and cooperation to accomplish their goals. They are given three days to complete their tasks and, with the exception of a rudimentary tool kit, must use only indigenous materials to do so.

The series shows the underlying principles that the scientists draw from in order to solve the challenges. These include making anti-bacterial cream and sun-tan lotion, making paper and ink, distilling salt water, building a weather station and predicting the weather, charting the island and drawing an accurate scale map, and even making fireworks!

Throughout the series, the personable scientists show how science and math can be exciting, fun, and extremely useful!

The 3 DVD discs in this series are:

101. All Mapped Out
102. Bugs and Barometers
103. Time and Transmitter

104. Feel the Heat
105. Sun and Sea
106. The Science of Celebration

107. Mediterranean Mystery
108. Simmering Shutterbugs
109. Power Supplies
110. Sustenance on Sayonara
All shot on the island of Capraia in the Mediterranean

Grade Level: 5 - 12, College, Adult
US Release Date: 2002     Copyright Date: 2002
DVD ISBN: 1-59458-093-6     VHS ISBN: 1-56029-960-6

"This entertaining series...succeeds in making science fun and accessible."
The Independent

"Thanks to a genuine sense of purpose and a refreshing lack of condescension, ['Rough Science'] works beautifully."
The Scotsman, Edinburgh

"ROUGH SCIENCE may be the most fun anyone ever had learning science."
St. Louis Post Dispatch

"An intelligent variation of the 'Castaway' theme."
The (London) Times

"I wish they'd had ROUGH SCIENCE when I was in school."
Newcastle Journal

"ROUGH SCIENCE dares to be genial and collegial, operating on the assumption that intellectual stimulation is not an exclusionary game... ROUGH SCIENCE resembles a 'Survivor' for smart people."
Seattle Post Intelligencer

"This show helps viewers learn that we all solve problems."
Webster-Kirkwood Times, Kirkwood, Mo.

"The premise of the show is that . . . knowledge will . . . rub off on the viewers while they are being entertained."
City Journal, St. Louis

"A sound acquisition for school libraries to enhance the science curriculum as well as for public libraries with non-print science collections."
School Library Journal

"The episodes are remarkable; they realistically show the false starts and problems scientists encounter...Because so many students watch 'reality television' in their spare time, ROUGH SCIENCE will be a high-interest supplement to the curriculum. It would be a great review or extension resource, and it would also be a perfect lead-in to design projects where groups of students are assigned similar tasks. The series demonstrates the application of basic principles in biology, chemistry, Earth science, and physics, so teachers will find many applications in middle and secondary programs."
Richard Smith, High School Teacher, NSTA Recommends

Select your institution type

Links (PBS' web site for the series.)
Study guide

Awards and Festivals
Gold Plaque, Chicago International Television Awards

Children's Films
Critical Thinking
Earth Science
Life Science
Marine Biology
Natural Resources
Oceans and Coasts
Physical Science
Renewable Energy


Related Titles

Rough Science (DVD Version)

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Classroom composting engages students in inquiry-based science.

In Search of the Edge
Flat earth theory proved! A lesson in critical thinking and media literacy.

... more Reviews

"We...are very pleased with our students' responses to the different episodes...The students are encouraged to see that there is real application to some of the abstract ideas in physics...[Rough Science] is an excellent series, a great educational tool."
Steve Hatfield, Math and Science Department, Brenau University

"[Rough Science] is a breath of fresh air...entertaining and educational. And perhaps the best advertisement for science as a career for curious people...Rough Science shows science 'in the raw' and setting it in a remote island location strips the scientists of the lab coats, test tubes and urge to speak in tongues. The program gets to the root of why science is interesting, and that's not something that we civilians get to see too often. Highly recommended."
Peter Rukavina, President of Reinvented, Inc., Computer Programmer and Graphic Designer

"This DVD is outstanding! Students will be absolutely fascinated when they hear that scientists without any high-tech instruments and supplies are going to attempt to create ice, sunblock and a thermometer on an isolated island that also happens to be quite warm...The personable scientists show how science and math can be exciting, fun and extremely useful!"
Science Secondary, 2003 NAMTC/NMM Curriculum Media Reviews

"The fascinating series Rough Science demonstrates exactly how I think science should be approached - functional application...Treat yourself to the DVD versions; they will re-pay the investment over and over...These films represent a tremendous resource in providing 'real life' knowledge and valuable information to homeschooling families - not just the children, but parents too. Watching them together is a great way to spend an evening."
Michael Leppert, The Link Homeschool News Network

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