Television: pick of the week
In a series for 14 to 16-year-olds - and in his usual idiosyncratic style - Adam Hart-Davis introduces us to the life and work of five scientists whose discoveries have determined the way we understand the world. Charles Darwin, the subject of the second programme, is an obvious choice, but he is preceded by the physicist Michael Faraday, whose work on electromagnetism made a big difference to our lives.
They are followed by Gregor Mendel (genetics) and Dmitri Mendeleyev (the periodic table). The Hart-Davis handful ends with the astronomer Edwin Hubble, who put us inside an expanding universe. The programmes are being broadcast for overnight recording and are also available on video, together with notes and an activity pack (from 4Learning, PO Box 400, Wetherby, LS23 7LG).
Science in Focus: The Virtual Body C4 Wednesday, February 26, 4-5.40am
Thanks to the visualisation possible with computer technology we can get right inside the body and see how it all works. Designed to teach human biology to 14 to 16-year-olds, this set of five programmes (also available on video) covers: circulation, respiration and breathing; immune systems; homeostasis; sensory systems; and genetic engineering.
Landmark Shorts: Using the Land BBC2 Thursdays, March 6 to April 3, 11.20-11.30am
This series of 10-minute programmes for primary geography focuses on land use, showing how different social, economic and political needs have determined where people live and what they do with the land around them.
Urban and suburban environments, country and town, coasts and inland, agricultural and industrial areas are explored for evidence of links between geography and life in the present and the past. The programmes are available on video, together with teachers' notes and an activity pack (pound;29.99 from BBC Customer Services. Tel: 0870 830 8000).
English Programme: Gift of the Gab C4 February 25 and 26, March 4, 5.40-6am
In the final three parts of this series for 14 to 16-year-olds on different kinds of writing, music journalist Stuart Bailie, columnist Jenny McCartney, poets Frank Ormsby and Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill, story writer Claire Keegan and novelist Glenn Patterson discuss different aspects of their work, with an emphasis on how to do it.
The subjects range from meeting deadlines to finding inspiration and the associated activities from writing a poem to imagining what two characters in a photograph may be thinking.
You can try alphabet poems, news poems and poems about the five senses; but remember, as Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill says: "the nucleus of a poem has to arise, rather than me go looking for it."
Not everyone can handle every kind of writing equally well, but it's worth having a go to see what you do best, and the professionals in these programmes give encouragement to have a try. The whole series, including screenwriters and playwrights, is available on video.
Fat Kids Discovery Health Discovery Channel, Friday, February 21, 9-10pm
Obesity among the young is becoming a serious problem. This documentary follows groups of children as they try two regimes to control their weight.
The first involves dieting and calorie counting, the second covers "maintenance" (as opposed to reduction), in the hope that the subjects will eventually reach their right weight.
There are difficulties for them in either scheme and they keep video diaries to record their progress. At a more general level, the film invites us to consider how being fat affects children's lives.