Parents' Choice Award
Spring 2018 Television
Ready Jet Go! is a half-hour animated series about earth/space science where pals Sean and Sydney get to explore the solar system with their new neighbor Jet Propulsion who, despite looking like a human, is an alien from planet Bortron 7.
Each episode features two separate stories and while the plots are fanciful they're built around scientific concepts such as understanding gravity and learning the steps of the scientific method. In "How We Found Your Sun," little human Mindy hears Jet describe the sun as a star but she's skeptical that anything so big can be a star, like the "tiny" ones she observes in the night sky. Jet explains that it's all about perspective and a trip into outer space shows the kids how observing something from different distances and angles reveals unique characteristics about it. In another episode titled "Tree House Observatory," Jet, Sydney, and Sean build their own observatory and even attempt to fashion a telescope out of items they find in Jet's garage. The storyline proves that so-called "failures" are an important part of learning. According to information on the PBS Kids website, this series, produced in cooperation with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory includes engaging live-action sequences with astronomer Amy Mainzer.
Ready Jet Go! sometimes suffers from a disconnect between the child-friendly characters and silly-fun elements and its more complex explanations of science concepts that occasionally feel shoe-horned in. Episodes do include lots of boppy tunes filled with science-inspired lyrics but it would take plenty of repeat viewings for these complex lyrics to stick with little kids and later be used as a kind of mnemonic device for school lessons.
Despite that, Ready Jet Go! has an admirable mission and can be viewed as much for entertainment as for its educational value. Parents and educators may not have a mini-van that turns into a space craft like Jet's mom does, but they still can use Ready Jet Go! as a vehicle for gazing skyward and starting conversations about the universe.
Gina Catanzarite ©2018 Parents' Choice
Gina Catanzarite is an award-winning television producer, writer, teacher, mom and media consultant in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She began her career in 1987 and counts 9 Emmy awards, 26 Emmy nominations, a Matrix award, two Pennsylvania Broadcaster's Association Awards, 8 Telly Awards, and a screenwriting grant from the Theatre Association of Pennsylvania, among her professional honors.