Most children's programs about conservation or ecology are either so didactic or so relentlessly joke-filled that the audience doesn't absorb the message. This problem is neatly avoided in Down the Drain, the latest special edition of the kids' science series 3-2-1 Contact. This Contact Extra is about water how little there is and how much we use. The program makes its point with a sense of humor but supplies lots of interesting information.
For instance, did you know that taking a shower consumes 50 gallons of water? I think I'd heard that somewhere, but I didn't know that the average person child or adult uses a total of about 120 gallons of water each day, drinking it, washing in it, cooking with it, using it to dispose of waste.
While Down the Drain offers a number of tips on how to avoid excessive use of this precious resource, the show isn't cluttered with ecology jargon. Hosted by 14-year-old Contact regular Stephanie Yu-who does interesting things like following the path of water in a toilet after it's been flushed, taking us through sewers, touring a water treatment plant, and so on-it's pretty cool as well as educational.
Yu is, as usual, terrific full of good humor but never cutesy; she reads her script as though she understands every word of it, which is more than I can say of many grown-up TV hosts. A-