Science is cool. When I was a kid my mom was a science teacher, and during the summer I’d serve as a child guinea pig for whatever courses she was taking. I dissected owl pellets, collected pond water, and learned firsthand that science is awesome. And gross. Did I mention gross?
If you weren’t lucky enough to have a scientifically inclined parent, you may have had the next best thing — the guiding, fictional hand of Miss Frizzle, the adventurous, well-dressed schoolmarm from The Magic School Bus. The Magic School Bus was a series of children’s books and cartoons about a group of kids diving head-first into the inner workings of scientific phenomena.
But let’s be real. Teachers are great, but they can’t hit the mark 100% of the time. Here are some Frizzle Fails: those Magic School Bus adventures that delved a little too far into the disgusting, confusing, or downright depressing side of science.
The Magic School Bus Gets Demented
The school bus takes a mystical journey along the neurons and synapses of Phoebe’s grandmother, who was recently diagnosed with advanced dementia. Can they make it through the hippocampus before activity is significantly impaired?
The Magic School Bus Heats Up
Riding on the back of a flea, the Magic School Bus travels with a roadkill racoon on its trip through the animal control center’s crematorium. The kids learn an important scientific axiom: energy cannot be created or destroyed… it can only change form (into a harrowing experience that will haunt you for all the rest of your days).
The Magic School Bus Is In The Money
…as a strain of bacteria being passed from person to person on a dollar bill. The whole gang follows Ralphie’s tooth fairy money as, in the course of a single day, it passes from a man’s unwashed bathroom hands, to the wallet of a lady who just sneezed into her bare palm, before making its final appearance tucked into a g-string at a gentleman’s club.
The Magic School Bus Yes We Can-Cer
When Tim Jamal is diagnosed with a rare invasive tumor, the Magic School Bus takes a fun ride along his fast-dividing cells, evading the surgeon’s knife before ultimately getting wiped out by a high dose of chemotherapy. Uncontrolled mitosis? More like uncontrolled fun!
The Magic School Bus And The Poison Ivy Mystery Tour
WHEEEE! The School Bus slip-slides along the oils excreted from a poison ivy plant, and everyone learns how urushiol can trigger an immune response before – whooosh! – getting knocked out by a hefty, immune-suppressing dose of oral steroids. Will prednisolone make the kids go HAM with mood changes and aggression? Will Frizzle escape the dreaded moon face?
[Guys this isn’t even a book pitch, really, I just have poison oak really bad and this is my life right now.]
The Magic School Bus Peanut Caper
What began as a wacky adventure into the growth cycle of legumes ended three minutes later. Because Keesha has a nut allergy. Read more in The Magic School Bus EpiPen Extravaganza!
The Magic School Bus In The Mouse House
Miss Frizzle takes the gang on a great trip along the gut flora in the digestive tract of a mouse (you would not BELIEVE how much food from your very own home they find in that stomach!). When the mouse is chased out by the family cat, he is snatched up by an owl. The mouse is swallowed whole, and the kids find themselves broken down into teenier and teenier bits inside the owl before being regurgitated in a sack of hair and bone that is harvested and dissected by a bunch of curious youngsters.
[Like… this is what I did for fun when I was eight. Thanks, mom.]
The Magic School Bus Joins A Gerbil Family
This trip begins in the vas deferens of a male gerbil. From there, they … learn some stuff… then grow into the rapidly dividing cells of a gerbil embryo. When the fetal gerbil is fully formed, they learn – oh no! – that a choromosomal abnormality prevented proper development. After a bumpy journey through the gerbil birth canal, they learn that the circle of life is short indeed, when the gerbil mother recognizes that the child will not thrive and eats it. From there, it’s an awesome lesson in gerbil digestion and egestion. YAY.
The Magic School Bus Is NOT The Father!
The kids learn about DNA analysis – AND the civil justice system – when they go for a quick trip on Dorothy Ann’s blood cells during a hotly contested child support inquiry. How much of her genome is identical to her putative father’s? A statistically insignificant amount, it turns out!
The Magic School Bus Comes To Your AIDs
In this Very Special Edition of the Magic School Bus, the kids learn about the proper handling of bodily fluids when Friz, who has several open paper cut wounds on her hands (so much grading!) comes to the assistance of the heavily bleeding victim of a freak drone accident. As they tag along with an HIV strain, the kids learn that communicable diseases can be passed in a number of ways and that they should always take precautions when interacting with bodily secretions. But it never hurts to hug!