“Stop watching TV and read a book, learn something!” 

If you are like me, you’ve probably heard this from your parents throughout your childhood. There is no doubt you can learn a lot from books as well as improve your vocabulary and writing skills. However, movies and television have taught me countless lessons and expanded my knowledge. Not all TV shows have this effect, but some have sparked my interest in a certain subjects resulting in independent learning purely out of curiosity. As a busy student it is important that you take some time to relax and decompress. It has been proven that multiple brief breaks throughout the day increase productivity, so why not learn something while your at it! Here is a list of a few of my favourite TV shows that may just teach you some cool things where you least expect it:

Planet Earth – Zoology and Ecology

Planet Earth brings us closer to the fascinating natural world than 99.9% of us will ever get. With immaculate cinematography, you follow the struggle for survival and reproduction of hundreds of unique organisms. You learn about the incredible adaptations animals use to survive in the most extreme of environments. As a biology student, Planet Earth allows you to see the survival mechanisms learned in class translated to the real world. From Siberian tigers to deep sea tube worms, Planet Earth gives you an appreciation of the astounding biodiversity of our planet. Even if you don’t retain every fact, it will inspire you to take better care of the planet. 

Cosmos – Astronomy and Astrophysics

If you don’t want to have an epiphany over how small and insignificant you are compared to the universe, Cosmos may not be for you. This immersive show will shoot you into the expanse of space, and take your on a trip through quasars and black holes. Lean about the forefathers of physics such as Galileo and Newton and see just how massive the constantly expanding universe is. You don’t need to be an astrophysics student to understand Cosmos, Cosmos explains complex concepts and phenomena in a way that’s easy to understand. Whether you are marveling over the beauty of a supernova or discovering microscopic quarks, Cosmos is truly a mind-bending experience. 

House MD – Medicine and Health Science

As an aficionado of medical dramas, I can tell you that not only is House MD the most entertaining medical drama, it’s also the most medically focused. While other shows like Grey’s Anatomy highlight drama and relationships; every House episode focuses on Dr.House and his team trying to save a patient with a rare disease. There is no doubt it is a bit formulaic and the writing can be corny at times, but you learn about a myriad of diseases as well as medical terminology. While almost all of the patients come in with extremely obscure diseases that are a statistical anomalies, the writing is checked by doctors and for the most part is medically accurate. While this not exactly an accurate representation of medical work, House MD is perfect for students interested in medical school or currently in health sciences. The only problem with this show is the next time you get a sore throat you will be 99% sure that you have fulminating osteomyelitis

Mythbusters – Various Sciences

Ever wonder if you can replace gasoline with alcohol to run your car? The Mythbusters, put popular myths to the test– busting or confirming them– and then providing scientific reason for their conclusions. From futuristic scenarios to medieval fables, Mythbusters truly has a myth for everybody. Concepts in physics and chemistry are explained in simple terms so even the layman can understand. Mythbusters shows how many scientific concepts can be applied to real life scenarios. Mythbusters is especially interesting for engineering students as many contraptions need to be designed and built. The Engineering of all the contraptions are well detailed and tested. Some of my personal favourite myths involve driving a motorcycle over water and surfing across a lake with rockets under a surfboard. You’ll have to watch to see how these work out!

While watching these TV shows may not raise your GPA, but they do teach you something new and interesting. Even if your university program has nothing to do with these shows, it is good to expand your breadth of knowledge. Having a wide and diverse knowledge base makes you a well rounded person, which can enhance your career prospects and personal life. Who knows maybe one of these shows will spark your interest and inspire you to take an elective you would have never imagined liking.

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