Does anyone remember Mathnet? It was a segment of a show called Square One TV, which was like the Electric Company, but with the focus on math. If you’re unfamiliar with the classic Jack Web series, Mathnet was a take on Dragnet, but to call it a parody would be inaccurate because the stories were actually pretty entertaining. They involved two detectives who solved fictitious crimes by using math. (Like Numb3rs, but surprisingly more realistic)
It was watching Square One that helped me to impress a science teacher when I was in the sixth grade, because I was the only student (not even of his class) that knew the definition of 3D. And math, being my least favorite subject, has never been as fun as it was on Square One until the discovery of Odd Squad.
Odd Squad is about an underground organization run by kids, that investigates bizarre phenomenon. Bag of chips turn into a bag of musical instrument? They have a gadget for that. Did you open your closet and find a planet inside? They have a gadget for it. The agents all have names beginning with the letter “O”, and the agency has existed for an untold number of years. As TVtropes.com refers to it, it’s better for older audiences to think of this as Makes Sense in Context: The Series. Because all of the stories are just the framework for the math related educational bits, like learning how to tell time, the basic math operations, and concepts like estimation and patterns.
What makes Odd Squad so refreshing is that like the much of the early programming that PBS was so famous for, it doesn’t talk down to it’s audience. The stories, while sometimes really out there, are engaging and fun to watch. When I think back to my own childhood, with my active imagination and the adventures I could have in those days, watching Odd Squad is like taking a much needed trip down memory lane.
Fans of Orphan Black will recognize one of the main characters, played by Millie Davis.
Odd Squad is available on demand at pbskids.org