Sky Trackers facts for kids
Quick facts for kidsSky Trackers
Sky Trackers (VHS cover)
|Created by||Jeff Peck
|Country of origin||Australia|
|No. of episodes||26|
|Executive producer(s)||Patricia Edgar|
|Running time||25 minutes|
|Production company(s)||ACTF Productions|
|Original network||Seven Network|
|Original release||19 March– 10 September 1995|
Sky Trackers is an 26-part science-based Australian children's television adventure series, and a stand-alone children's television movie of the same name, which feature the adventures of children who live at space-tracking stations in Australia. Both series and telemovie were created by Jeff Peck and Tony Morphett, and executive-produced by Patricia Edgar on behalf of the Australian Children's Television Foundation (ACTF).
The 1990 telemovie was shot at the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex, at Tidbinbilla in the Australian Capital Territory. The subsequent TV series, which had an entirely new cast fronted by Petra Yared and Zbych Trofimiuk, was shot at the Australia Telescope Compact Array in the New South Wales outback near Narrabri. The series aired in Australia in 1995, on the Seven Network. Although the series and movie have characters in common, they do not share continuity.
Sky Trackers the series grew from a request by Australia's federal science agency (the CSIRO) to Patricia Edgar, the then director of the ACTF, to create a program that would help attract girls towards careers in science. The resultant series aimed to popularise science for children through drama, and to excite them about its opportunities and its potential for future career choices, and at the same time demystify the work and working conditions of scientists.
Sky Trackers the series won the Australia Film Institute's Award for Best Children's Drama Series (1994), and Zbych Trofimiuk picked up its award for Young Actor. Sky Trackers also won at the Cairo International Film Festival for Children (1994) and the Australian Teachers of Media (ATOM) Awards (1995).
Combining adventure, teenage romance, and scientific endeavour, Sky Trackers the series centres around three kids who live beneath the gleaming white dishes of a space tracking station in the Australian outback – where their scientist parents work.
Nikki is 13 and passionately loves science. Her dream is to be an astronaut and the first person on Mars. She is an avid fan of Mike's famous astrophysicist father.
Mike is 14 and loves playing electric guitar, horse-riding, and rollerblading; but he has a poor relationship with his workaholic father. Jimi Hendrix is his hero. And although Mike thinks "science sucks" when he arrives at the station with his father, he quickly becomes friends with Nikki, and her younger sister Maggie.
Together they share adventures where they use the station's high-tech facilities to solve problems and save lives. And as they experience the excitement of adventures such as tracking meteorites, searching for a bush ranger's treasure, listening to signals from outer space, seeing auroras, finding hidden caves, and hunting for UFOs, they learn a lot about the world, themselves, and each other – as they live, love, fight and laugh together.
- Petra Yared as Nikki Colbert (credited as Petra Jared)
- Zbych Trofimiuk as Mike Masters
- Emily-Jane Romig as Maggie Colbert
- Steve Jacobs as Tony Masters
- Anna-Maria Monticelli as Marie Colbert
Recurring adult cast
- Paul Sonkkila as Frank Giles
- Marco Chiappi as Christian
- Rosalind Hammond as Elfie
The Australian Children's Television Foundation produced three Sky Trackers the series teaching packages for use in schools in the form of three Curriculum Packs:
- Sky Trackers: The Environment by Annemaree O'Brien and Noel Gough
- covers environmental activists, waterways, human intervention and protecting your planet
- Sky Trackers: Space by Annemaree O'Brien and Noel Gough
- covers rockets, space phenomena, radio telescopes and microwaves, SETI, science and culture, ethics and values.
- Sky Trackers: Family and Self by Don Edgar and Annemaree O'Brien
- covers family relationships, grief, domestic violence, family breakups and adoption.
Each pack contained three Sky Trackers episodes on videotape, introduced by the young actors, with teacher's background notes on the topic and suggested questions and student activities aimed at upper primary and junior secondary school (years 5-8) classrooms. The featured episodes are a dramatic blend of stories about science, deep space, the environment and family life, which provide launch points to explore a range of issues, encouraging kids to ponder, debate, discuss, question and investigate further.
Today, the educational resources for the series are provided in a downloadable pdf from ACTF's website.
Sky Trackers episode-clips also feature in ACTF's publication What's Fair, by Val Catchpoole – an educational multi-media resource for teaching ethical inquiry in schools.
Penguin Books Australia published a tie-in novel based on the series, also titled Sky Trackers, written by Amanda Midlam.
Sky Trackers the movie was released on video by Village Roadshow.
Sky Trackers the series was released on video by Reel Entertainment in nine volumes, with the first collection of episodes available to the public in June 1995.
Sky Trackers the movie was sold to Showcase Television in Canada and EuroArts International Gmbh in Germany in 1996.
Sky Trackers the series has been sold to 105 countries. It performed particularly well in Europe where it was sold to ARD Germany, Danmarks Radio, NRK Norway, the Finnish Broadcasting Company, Slovak TV, RTSR Switzerland, AVRO in the Netherlands, and RTE Ireland who aired it from 28 August 1995. A contract with France 2 was also negotiated in 1995. In 1996, Telepiu, a pay television channel in Italy, acquired a one year window of the series, and Canal Plus Poland acquired a two year window.
The series has also been sold to the Philippines, Nigeria, Turkey, Slovak Republic, Israel, Iceland, Cyprus, Arabic-speaking territories, Honk Kong, Mexico, Indonesia, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Sri Lanka; and to the Encore Media Corporation, for its WAM! teenage channel in the United States.
Awards and nominations
|Year||Nominated Work||Award Event||Category||Result||Reference|
|1994||'Skating the dish'
episode of Sky Trackers
|Australian Film Institute (AFI) Awards, Melbourne, Australia||Best Children's Television Drama||Won|
for the role of Mike Masters
|Young Actor Award||Won|
|'Skating the dish'
episode of Sky Trackers
|Banff Television Festival, Canada||Banff Rockie Award for Best Children's Program||Nominated|
|Sky Trackers series||Cairo International Film Festival for Children in Egypt||Golden Cairo for TV Programmes||Won|
|1995||Australian Teachers of Media (ATOM) Awards, Melbourne, Australia||Best Children's Television Series||Won|
|Bavarian State Ministry for Education, Culture, Science and Art in Munich||International Competition of the MediaNet Awards||
|1996||Prix Jeunesse, Munich||Children's program, Age 7-12||
Sky Trackers Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.