What: Finding Stuff Out
Where: Knowledge Network
When: Two episodes weekly, premières Saturday and Sunday, 11:30 a.m.
Have you ever wondered why there could even be such a thing as bacon-flavoured popcorn?
Or what would happen if you never cut your fingernails? Or about how fish can breathe underwater?
These are some of the big questions host Harrison Houde will answer with input from scientific experts coast-to-coast on Finding Stuff Out, Knowledge Network’s new 13-part summer series premièring Saturday and Sunday at 11:30 a.m.
“I learned so much just doing this show,” said the Qualicum Beach-raised teenager during a break from shooting a guest spot in Spooksville, the comedy-adventure series Front Street Pictures is producing in the Cowichan Valley for the U.S. network The Hub.
“My friend who watched our episode on germs sent me a text saying she learned more in five minutes watching our show than during a whole school year,” said Houde, 17, with the gee-whiz passion of both his online and TV personas.
Before landing the hosting gig, the teen played Darren Walsh in the family comedy Diary of a Wimpy Kid and appeared in the TV shows Fairly Odd Parents and Untold Stories of the E.R. He has also attracted 12,000 subscribers to his YouTube channel showcasing his original music, videos and short films through his own company, Turnip Time Entertainment.
“I started making videos before I even did any acting,” he said. “I was just really into making YouTube videos with my friends and then I went ‘I want to be an actor. I can do this.’ ”
It seems inevitable, considering his parents named him after one of Hollywood’s most famous actors — Harrison Ford.
Houde, who started playing piano at age four and drums eight years later, soon found himself writing music and composing scores for his online content.
“I bought a camera at Wal-Mart for $20. I looked at tutorials online and just picked stuff up over the years,” said Houde, who also wrote 12 songs for the show he describes as being “like Bill Nye [The Science Guy] but with my rap songs.”
The show’s objective is to make learning about science fun, said Michele Paris, Knowledge Kids’ senior program manager.
“We’re proud to have a homegrown host in Harrison,” she said. “We know his inquisitive mind and creativity will inspire other kids around B.C. to explore the world around them.”
Houde, who admits “I never stop, but it’s a blast,” said he’s had some wild adventures taping episodes on topics such as food and nutrition, solar power, babies and families, plants, magic, garbage and recycling, habitat and five essential senses.
One memorable experience was visiting Novotaste, a Canadian flavours-manufacturing company.
“They had everything you could think of,” he said. “You know those mad-scientist lairs on TV shows? It was like that, with people in white coats making all these cool flavours.”
The learning experience doesn’t end when the closing credits roll, however, Houde adds.
“We’ve got this really great app with all the experiments from the show,” he said, referring to Finding Stuff Out’s free mobile app for Android and iPhones, designed to engage viewers with factoids, entertainment and interactive experiments. It includes an opportunity for kids to piece together machines on their mobile devices and set them in motion.