Project Shiphunt

I get a lot of publicist-generated email these days, asking me to promote something or another on the blog. Most of these I ignore– far too many of them are for right-wing political candidates– but I got one a little while back promoting a program airing tonight, called Project Shiphunt, which included a link to watch a preview of the show. And since I needed stuff to watch on my laptop while SteelyKid falls asleep, I checked it out, and it’s pretty good.

As the title suggests, it’s a show about finding a sunken ship. Specifically, finding a sunken ship in Lake Huron, that went down a hundred-odd years ago. The wrinkle on this that makes it different from dozens of other shows is that the team involved includes five high-school kids from Saginaw, Michigan. The kids, from poor schools, are involved in every aspect of the project: they go through historical records and come up with a search area, they go out on the ship doing a sonar scan of the lake floor, and identify potential objects of interest, they ride along and watch video feeds from the robot submersibles and divers used to explore the wreck. One of the kids even gets to pilot one of the robots, which produces a great “All those years of videogaming finally pay off!” moment.

It’s a really well-designed program for the kids, and they’re very engaged with the project. They do a very good job with their tasks– the search area they determine just about matches the area that the experts behind the show had come up with beforehand, and they spot not one but two possible ships in the sonar scan. The scientists involved are also clearly committed to the project– the divers they send down stay in the water a lot longer than originally planned, so they can get a clear identification for the kids.

The project was sponsored by Sony, who provided the high-end laptops used to do the data processing for the sonar scans, and there are a couple of slightly heavy-handed product placement moments. Some of the interview portions verge on being hokey, but that’s par for the genre.

I probably wouldn’t've come across this on my own– it’s airing on Current TV tonight, and that’s not a network in my normal rotation– but I enjoyed watching the preview. If you’re looking for something to watch on a post-hurricane Tuesday night, check it out.