I have no idea why I have never discovered National Geographic’s Brain Games before this weekend. But as my kids browsed Netflix yesterday — and I prayed for anything not animated — my seven-year-old paused on Season 1, asked if we could watch, and we gave it a shot.
Consider us all instantly hooked.
Right from the first episode about optical illusions, my kids were utterly captivated by the experiments, illusions, and demos from engaging host Jason Silva, and then the brain science that explains all of it.
These cubes above? They are the exact same color. Whoa. In other words, there’s a reason people are still debating about the color of The Dress and this experiment helps you understand why.
Subsequent episodes cover topics like food, language, superstition, patterns, memory, money, and how our brain function, for better or for worse, impacts our perceptions. And you can find more info as well as fun brain-teasers and videos over on the Brain Games site.
If you really want to get your kids excited, and they’re iffy on a “documentary” (oh, the horror) start with episode one, or jump right to episode two on lying. My kids absolutely loved the experiment in which a CIA interrogator asks kids if they ate any of a chocolate cake during the ten minutes he left them alone in a room on secret camera. Then we learn to decipher how someone is lying, even an actor — and what’s more, whether our brains are hardwired to lie.
Should you be looking for a new streaming series to watch with your kids that you’ll both enjoy, Brain Games is a great find. It’s such a cool way to get kids excited about science and the ways we perceive the world, and thinking about how to overcome our own biases and perceptions — or misperceptions, as the case may be.
I’d say younger kids will enjoy the quizzes and interactivity and high energy, but it’s really curious grade-schoolers straight through teens and adults who will get the nuances that make the show such a thrill.
And if it’s any comfort, when your toddler says he didn’t draw on the wall with a Sharpie, even while standing right next to the wall, covered in Sharpie, and holding the pen in his hand, take comfort in the fact that he’s actually reached an important neurophysical developmental milestone. Congratulations.