Take advantage of this month’s Learning at Home broadcast schedule – great for students engaged in hybrid or distance instruction, and families looking to spend some extra, quality time together!
After watching these fascinating programs, explore the PBS LearningMedia and web resources to learn more.
Monday, January 3
1 PM: In Their Own Words: Angela Merkel
One of the most enigmatic and inscrutable world leaders of our time, Angela Merkel’s life story reveals the woman behind the veil. Explore how experiences that began in her childhood shaped her politics and ultimately, the face of modern Europe.
The Forbidden City is the world’s biggest and most extravagant palace complex ever built. For five centuries, it was the power center of imperial China and survived wars, revolution, fires, and earthquakes. How did the Ming Emperor’s workforce construct its sprawling array of nearly 1,000 buildings and dozens of temples in a little over a decade?
In 1969 off the California coast, a US Navy crane carefully lowered a massive tubular structure into the waters. It was an audacious feat of engineering — a pressurized underwater habitat, designed for an elite group of divers to spend days or even months at a stretch living and working on the ocean floor. Sealab tells the little-known story of the daring program that tested the limits of human endurance and revolutionized undersea exploration.
Based on the book “The Woman Who Smashed Codes: A True Story of Love, Spies, and the Unlikely Heroine Who Outwitted America’s Enemies,” The Codebreaker reveals the fascinating story of Elizebeth Smith Friedman, the groundbreaking cryptanalyst whose painstaking work to decode thousands of messages for the U.S. government would send infamous gangsters to prison in the 1920s and bring down a massive, near-invisible Nazi spy ring in WWII. Together with her husband, the legendary cryptologist William Friedman, Elizebeth helped develop the methods that led to the creation of the powerful new science of cryptology and laid the foundation for modern codebreaking today
This revealing film examines how human activity is setting off dangerous warming loops that are pushing the climate to a point of no return – and what we need to do to stop them. With captivating illustrations, stunning footage and interviews with leading climate scientists as well as support from Greta Thunberg and Jane Fonda, “Earth Emergency” adds the missing piece of the climate puzzle.
“Climate Change – The Facts” brings together leading climate scientists who explain what might happen if global warming increases 1.5 degrees. Experts examine the consequences of rising temperatures on ice sheets, fragile ecosystems, developing communities and extreme weather events. Personal accounts of California wildfires, extreme coastal flooding in Louisiana and increasing temperatures in Australia paint vivid pictures of these devastating effects.
Muhammad: Legacy of a Prophet tells the story of a man who changed the world 1,400 years ago and now lives in the United States through the lives of the millions of Americans who practice Islam and regard him as God’s prophet. It travels in the footsteps of the founder of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad to the Arabian Desert and the holy city of Mecca where Muhammad’s story unfolded. But the film does not just stay in the past.
1:30 PM: Articulate | Joseph Conyers in Concert and Conversation
Bassist Joseph Conyers uses music as a tool for social engagement and community building. In this Articulate exclusive, he discusses his community-based work and performs music from a variety of genres.
The healing powers of music on the brain deserve to be recognized and above all heard. Tuning the Brain with Music allows us to discover cutting-edge research in musical neuroscience through the stories of people for whom music has succeeded where other therapies have not. The film alternates between neuroscientific research, music therapists in session and true stories retold by those who have been transformed by music.
Uncover the variety of activity, both human and natural, that occurs on the slopes of active volcanoes. Take a terrifying descent into the crater of one of the world’s most dangerous volcanoes alive today. James Naughton narrates.
Skyscrapers are gleaming symbols of prestige, and an ingenious way to save space in dense urban areas. But as buildings rise ever higher, what are the risks of these architectural behemoths? Do we truly know how they will hold up in earthquakes, fires, and other potential disasters? What have–or haven’t—we learned from past tragedies?
Throughout 1942, German U-boats were sinking hundreds of American ships in the Atlantic Ocean, effectively cutting the supply line to embattled ally England. In desperation, the United States Navy turned to the National Cash Register Company in Dayton, Ohio, to design and build code-breaking machines. The high-priority and highly classified project involved hundreds of civilians, Naval officers and one engineer of German descent whose insight and technical ability helped break the complex Enigma code. Dayton Codebreakers uncovers Joseph Desch’s role in helping end World War II, through interviews with eminent historians, scientists and honored war veterans.
New York’s Adirondack Park is larger than Yellowstone, Yosemite, Glacier, Grand Canyon, and Great Smokies National Parks combined. It is one of the largest unbroken deciduous forests on earth. It has a thousand miles of streams and rivers, hundreds of lakes, and lofty peaks. Even more amazing, most of the land within the park is privately owned, and 85 million people live within a day’s drive. Yet the Adirondacks seem entirely undeveloped. How did that happen? The founding of the Adirondack Park Agency, 50 years ago, was truly, A Wild Idea.
Plunge into the Pacific with researchers and cinematographers and see the ocean’s rare and dazzling creatures in a way never before seen on television. Big Pacific examines an ocean that covers a third of the Earth’s surface. Man has explored land, the ocean’s surface, and large parts of the solar system, and in the 21st century we are just beginning to explore the depths of the Pacific Ocean. We yearn to unravel the mysterious Pacific – but she does not give up her secrets willingly.
Using the latest in archaeology, anthropology and genetics, First Civilizations tells the story of where the modern world began. In the first episode, War, examine the process of “destructive creation” — the idea that fear, rivalry and conflict strengthen community bonds while stimulating an arms race of technological progress. The result is civilization. Ancient Mesoamerica exemplifies this development.
Discover the legendary choreographer Alvin Ailey whose dances center on the Black American experience with grace, strength and beauty. Featuring previously unheard audio interviews with Ailey, interviews with those close to him and an intimate glimpse into the Ailey studios today.
Two short docs explore the history and memory of African-American communities: the creator of an archive of black excellence fights to make it permanent; and a family’s audiovisual legacy, identities, and relationships are revisited.
Local musicians and stunning scenics take centerstage on Soundscapes. Singer/songwriter Lydia von Hof is introduced to audiences through her blend of jazz and pop tunes at the Strand Center Theatre in Plattsburgh, NY.
Phoebe Bridgers is one of the most talked about singer-songwriters on the indie scene. She creates story songs that are wise beyond her years. With his iconoclastic dance company JUNK, choreographer Brian Sanders makes provocative work that pushes the extremes of audiences’ comfort zones.
In the vicinity of New York’s Hudson River Valley, a group of American painters led by British born artist Thomas Cole forged an artistic vision of the wilderness. This was the first American school of landscape painting. Men with the names of Cole, Durand, Cropsey, Bierstadt, and Church would impress the world with their creative brilliance and wondrous vision. On canvas they would bring to life 19th century America.
1 PM: Opportunity and Promise: New York State Celebrates the Life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Few individuals have had such a profound impact on modern society as did Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This one-hour special is a tribute to the life and legacy of Dr. King by the citizens of New York State, showcasing people and organizations that embody the principles of one of America’s most significant leaders for social justice, freedom, and equality.
The octopus is the closest we may get to meeting an alien. They evolved from a common cousin more than 500 million years ago, but are also intelligent creatures with proven problem-solving abilities. So what happens when you invite an eight-legged alien into your living room? This documentary follows marine biologist David Scheel as he tracks his evolving relationship with his own octopus.
The hidden scientific secrets of butterflies reveal them to be more inventive and resilient than we ever imagined. Follow their extraordinary life cycle and migrations to tropical rainforests, windswept prairies, and even inside a chrysalis as it’s being spun. Discover how butterfly science is inspiring groundbreaking technology, including more efficient solar power cells, and bulletproof vests stronger than Kevlar.
Violence is part of life in the Pacific and those that live here must choose whether to avoid conflict or rise to meet it. The Pacific Ocean is a hunter’s paradise. From the skies of Snake Island to the teeming tropics, animals are reinventing the delivery of death on a grand scale. Surrounded by the Ring of Fire, this ocean is the epicenter of natural mayhem.
Discover the secret to the stability and cohesion of Ancient Egypt — religion. When people share a core set of beliefs, they are more likely to identify as one. That was true for the first civilizations and it’s just as true today.
In the spring of 1905, the first group of fresh-faced graduates of Yale’s Forestry School began to arrive in the bawdy frontier towns of the West. These first employees of the Forest Service were given the monumental task of managing the newly created national forests in the Northern Rockies. Nothing could have prepared them for the severity of the drought there in 1910. Fires broke out continually and were fought by the rookie rangers as best they could. In mid-August, the particularly destructive fire season hit its peak: in just 36 hours, a firestorm burned more than three million acres and killed at least 78 firefighters, confronting the fledgling U.S. Forest Service with a catastrophe that would define the agency and the nation’s fire policy for much of the twentieth century.
2 PM: American Experience: Surviving the Dust Bowl
In 1931 the rains stopped and the “black blizzards” began. Powerful dust storms carrying millions of tons of stinging, blinding black dirt swept across the Southern Plains — the panhandles of Texas and Oklahoma, western Kansas, and the eastern portions of Colorado and New Mexico. Topsoil that had taken a thousand years per inch to build suddenly blew away in only minutes. One journalist traveling through the devastated region dubbed it the “Dust Bowl.” Surviving the Dust Bowl is the remarkable story of the determined people who clung to their homes and way of life, enduring drought, dust, disease — even death — for nearly a decade.
Local musicians and stunning scenics take centerstage on Soundscapes. Singer/songwriter Giovanina Bucci brings her distinct mix of blues, soul, and folk to the stage of the Strand Center Theatre in Plattsburgh, NY.
Even after fifty years of accolades, including a Pulitzer Prize at 26 for his Doonesbury comic strip, Garry Trudeau reckons he may have gotten too much too young. And despite her mastery of the written word, Joyce Carol Oates is skeptical about how well conversation can express the complexities of thought and emotions.
2 PM: The Hudson River School: Cultivating a Tradition
In the 19th century, artist Thomas Cole and engraver Asher Durand established an artistic movement that became The Hudson River School. The next generation expanded their palette with a technique that was immersed in light. This artistic innovation was later hailed as, “The Luminist Movement.” This film tells the story of these artists who became the greatest landscape painters in the world.
Wildlife cameraman Gordon Buchanan explores life in the ocean as cameras designed to withstand the pressures of a life at sea take us out onto the water. They unveil a fascinating underwater world, much of which is out of reach to regular camera crews.
A team of intrepid paleontologists discovers that dinosaurs thrived in the unlikeliest of places—the cold and dark of winter in the Arctic Circle. How did they survive year-round and raise their young in frigid and dark winter conditions? A dinosaur expedition explores a remote, treacherous, and stormy terrain where the team knows that every bone they find there will likely be a first, adding up to a unique picture of a lost northern world.
In 1812, a very young United States of America had its sights set on expansion to the north and the west. But the British wanted to keep its former colony tightly contained. In the balance were the lands of the Northwestern Frontier. “War of 1812 in the Old Northwest” brings to life some of the most famous names and places of the war.
The Final Invasion reveals the amazing struggle of America’s “Forgotten War” with Great Britain in 1812. The film offers a general overview on the causes of the War of 1812 and then concentrates on a key battle that changed the course of American history in 1814. Shot on-location in Great Britain, Canada and the US The Final Invasion features leading authors, re-enactments, previously unpublished diaries and newly discovered documents.
There is plenty of food in the Pacific Ocean, but it is the challenge of finding that food that drives all life in the Pacific. In the voracious Pacific we meet a destructive army of mouths, a killer with a hundred mouths and the biggest mouth in the ocean.
View the birthplace of civilization: the Middle East, site of the world’s first villages, towns and cities, from the hills of Turkey to the plains of Iraq. They were crucibles of invention and innovation — turbo-charging the pace of progress.
Award-winning filmmaker David Grubin tells the story of the Buddha’s life narrated by Richard Gere, a journey especially relevant to our own bewildering times of violent change and spiritual confusion. Experts on the Buddha, representing a variety of disciplines, relate the key episodes of the Buddha’s life and reflect on what his journey means for us today.
1:30 PM: Festival Films: Spotlight on New York Shorts
A trio of short films, highlighting the beauty of upstate New York with drama, whimsy and humor, are presented. The three films were official selections at the Adirondack Film Festival, 2020. This special results from a collaboration between the Adirondack Film Festival and the Mountain Lake PBS series of arts segments Spotlight, produced by Paul Larson.
Culture Quest is a series that looks at life through the lens of the world’s artists, artisans and keepers of culture. In this episode, we travel to Western Mongolian with nomadic Kazak herders who hunt using golden eagles in a tradition that dates back to well before the great Mongol Empire. That nomadic lifestyle and the traditions that come with it are trying to find their place in an ever-encroaching modern world.
We travel to Ghana, where the young artists are at the top of African art internationally and are using their art to call attention to real issues effecting their daily lives: climate change, waste and poverty – while at the same time trying to carve out their own cultural identity instead of the one that was placed upon them through slavery and colonialism.
Wildlife cameraman Gordon Buchanan fronts the team helping scientists to investigate the lives of some of Australia’s most iconic animals. Using state-of-the-art cameras to film groundbreaking new behavior, the program unveils the fascinating worlds that are often out of reach to regular camera crews.
The ancient ancestors of today’s Maya people thrived in large sophisticated cities across Central America for centuries. Why, around 750 CE, did they begin to abandon many of their major cities? Archaeologists investigate dramatic new evidence of the catastrophic droughts and instability that pushed cities beyond their limits. The evidence also testifies to the survival and resilience of the Maya people, whose traditions and creativity continue to enrich the world today.