Vernier Science Education - June 2024


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Elementary Science

Movies in Science

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Sara Kinyon Sara Kinyon 2100 Points

I'm currently taking the Movies in Science NSTA course and I've taken various NSTA courses in the past. I have recommended the site to many teachers before. It is a great website with a lot different videos teachers can use in the classroom. My favorite videos are the Bill Nye. This website has almost every Bill Nye episode you could need. I know we are supposed to be looking at more "popular" movies/videos that have been in theaters but I thought some teachers might like this resource also. :)

Michelle Diosa Michelle Diosa 435 Points

Thank you for sharing! I love Bill Nye videos!

Ava Aldcroft Ava Aldcroft 595 Points

Thanks for sharing! I love Bill Nye. Definitely really engaging and an icon that most students will know.

Carolyn Mohr Carolyn Mohr 92326 Points

Hi Sara. Thanks for the info on the gamequarium website. There is another discussion thread about Movies in Science that you might be interested in too at 'Life' in movies. Tell us a little more about what you are learning in the NSTA course. I have never participated in one, and I am interested in knowing more about it. Thanks.

Daniel Carroll Dan Carroll 18610 Points is another great resource. I use it to show the mechanical universe series, but I know they also have terrific earth science resources. On You-Tube you can find old episodes of Eureka - animated series on physics concepts, and Julius Sumner Miller - a fabulous show of demos about Physics

Kathy Renfrew Kathy Renfrew 37248 Points

I too would also like to know more the Movies in Science course. I will have to dosome more invstigating on my own but I would like to know how you are going to use it in your classroom. Kathy

 Dawn Nishimoto 3015 Points

Hey Sara Thanks for sharing I'm taking the NSTA physical science course and was looking for a video to introduce atoms and chemical reactions to sixth graders. I love the Bill Nye video clips. I will be using the Bill Nye Chemical Reaction series (part 1-3) in my upcoming unit. Last year I did a unit on atoms and atomic structure and used the Bill Nye videos on Atoms and Molecules. The videos really helped my students understand the content. Prior to the video we read about atoms and molecules and many students were still struggling to comprehend the key concepts. I think videos can be an amazing resource in the science classroom. Students are able to see physical/conceptual models and observe experiments we are not able to do in class. Thanks for sharing! Anyone else use science videos as a part of their curriculum?

Daniel Carroll Dan Carroll 18610 Points

The mythbustes episodes are great. Some of them border on inappropriate, but most of them can be fit right into science lessons. I have used them as part of the assessment in physics class

Tiffany Franklin Tiffany Franklin 1170 Points has a version of Mythbusters episodes that are a bit more kid-friendly, called Head Rush. Off that site, you can check out Carrie Byron (the red head on Mythbusters) does the show and adds smaller eperiments on the side that are really neat. The kids really get into the episodes, too, so you rarely have to fight them to pay attention (EVEN THE 5th GRADERS!). :)

Sandra Dolbin Sandra Dolbin 4985 Points

Hi There! Thanks to everyone for the great resources. I am also am taking the Science Movies course through NSTA and have been trying to find clips of movies that are appropriate for fourth graders as well as science clips from movies that address the fourth grade science benchmarks. This certainly hasn’t been as easy as I thought it would be. If you have access to Safari Montage, that would be a source I would recommend for teachers to use in their classrooms. Thank you to Sara for recommending gamequarium. I’ll look through that site this weekend for some clips and videos. Also thank you for starting this discussion thread. It has really given me some good ideas and suggestions to help me along with this course.

Helen Hicks Helen Hicks 2635 Points

Helen Hicks Helen Hicks 2635 Points

Thanks Sara, I remember watching Bill Nye the science guy back in my younger days and know my students would love watching him as much as I did. Also, there are many NSTA articles that have lists of popular movies to use in the science classroom along with instruction and discussion questions and the science standards they would match best with. Jacob Clark Blickenstaff, PhD, provides expert commentary on his website of movies that are meant to entertain he turned into teachable science for all different ages. [url=]Thanks Sara, I remember watching Bill Nye the science guy back in my younger days and know my students would love watching him as much as I did. Also, there are many NSTA articles that have lists of popular movies to use in the science classroom along with instruction and discussion questions and the science standards they would match best with. Jacob Clark Blickenstaff, PhD, provides expert commentary on his website of movies that are meant to entertain he turned into teachable science for all different ages. Thanks, Helen

Opt_out Opt_out Tara Soleta 1560 Points

I’m one of those people who enjoy watching movies, but I have a difficult time remembering them! NSTA has given me a way to save time and choose movies I can implement in my classroom. Jacob Clark Blickenstaff’s commentaries have been very helpful in aligning appropriate movies to standards. He points out concepts that in viewing a video I don’t always see, “Turning bad science into teachable science.” I’m usually watching for entertainment and to relax, not always a lesson to learn. For example the review on Good Eats, Blickenstaff points out that Alton Brown not only provides steps for cooking, but also the science behind the recipes and techniques. I have enjoyed watching these shows and didn’t realize the teaching opportunities I can use from them. I am in the process of using the Blick on Flicks to help me with lesson ideas and I’m finding it to be very resourceful!

Vincent Lowery Vincent Lowery 2750 Points

I am also taking the movie class. I love bill nye and did not know about the gamequarium site, so thanks. So many movies have at least parts of them that can be used to help teach. I show the very beginning of Armageddon to open the talk about the extinction of the dinosaurs. "It happened before, it could happen again." There is something about the production quality of Hollywood movies that really grabs the kids attention. 5-10 minute parts of movies are easy to fit into the lesson. The tornado in the wizard of oz, the iceberg in titanic, and the sulfur pool in dante's peak are three that I have used to ask questions like what percentage of the iceberg was above water and why. Having said that, the videos such as bill nye, that really get into a particular topic are extremely useful and informative.

Betty Paulsell Betty Paulsell 48560 Points

Vincent, You make a good point about using small parts of videos. Using only a small part of a video at a time keeps the attention of students better than showing the entire video nonstop. Stopping to discuss parts as you view the video enhances class discussion and attention at the same time. Also, when choosing to show a video you may only want to view a small part of it, not the entire video. You can choose only the parts that fit your curriculum.

Sara Kinyon Sara Kinyon 2100 Points

Vincent, Thanks for the ideas on videos. I wasn't thinking of just showing the smaller clips. I am having a hard time thinking of movies to show that tie into my standards. I thought it would be easy but when I try to sit and think of something I'm stumped. Maybe I'm thinking too hard or just looking at the movies as a whole. I'm finishing up simple machines and moving into Earth materials next, any ideas? I would greatly appreciate the help! Sara

Michael Leslie Michael Leslie 2110 Points

Wow what a cool site. I hope I can take this class in the future. Up until now I have been using discovery education, run by the discovery channel to find video to supplement learning. While the videos are information the quality is on the lower side I think because the videos themselves are very old. You tube is also blocked at our school for obvious reason and the Bill Nye videos are funny as well as educational. So much of Science is based on experiments and observations but we as teachers, or myself don't have the resources or enough time to do these great things for our students this is the best alternative. Thanks again for sharing.

Rachel Nieto Rachel Nieto 530 Points

Oh thank you for this info. I have always liked Bill Nye videos. They are so entertaining and educational as well. I was surprised that I couldn't find them as easily as I thought I would be now I can =)

Rachel Nieto Rachel Nieto 530 Points

Oh thank you for this info. I have always liked Bill Nye videos. They are so entertaining and educational as well. I was surprised that I couldn't find them as easily as I thought I would be now I can =)

Caryn Meirs Caryn Meirs 26235 Points

Since Bill Nye is up here (love him!) I thought I might add another TV show that is such high quality that it shows like a movie -

NOVA and NOVA Science NOW episodes and Scientific American Frontiers. All are viewable free online! The old SAF episodes are a bit harder to search but worth it - and although the show is 60 minutes you can break it up into segments.

The NOVA Science NOW webpage is fantastic - super well organized, very visual and easy to find cool stuff on!

Best of all - almost every episode has some sort of web resource, printable activity, teachers guide or viewing suggestions attached to it!

...and did I mention that its free?!

Luis Ruiz Luis Ruiz 2285 Points

I think Bill Nye is a great choice for the classroom. Personally, when I used to be in grade school I would look forward to watching his videos. The way he would present certain topics and experiments were so unique that to this day I remember some of the lessons he would go over in his videos. This is something I would use with my students because they learn and are entertained at the same time. This will allow the students who don't like Science develop a an intrest to it and will continue on motivating the students who already like it.

Betty Paulsell Betty Paulsell 48560 Points

Just reading through all the posts on this topic has been great. What a wealth of resources to check out!! I hope others take time to read this topic strand!! Thanks to all.

Margeaux Ikuma Margeaux Ikuma 620 Points

I agree with Adah that sometimes just showing a short clip of the movie is enough to hook students in. When showing clips to my students in class, I want to make sure that they understand the purpose for watching the movie, and therefore (if time allows), show the movie clip twice. The clips that I pick are usually no longer than 3-4 minutes, and are just enough to start a discussion or lead us in to what we are learning. The first time that I show the clip, I let the students just enjoy it. Let them focus on what they want to focus on, whether it’s the entertainment value or the bizarre minute details that they choose to pay attention to. But the second time that we watch the clip, I make sure to ask the students guiding questions that will help them to link the science content with the video clip or questions that will spark a conversation about a new topic of study. For example, when showing students a quick video of erosion, I ask them to explain to their neighbor what erosion is, and than after watching part of the clip, I will have them turn to their neighbor again to discuss where they saw erosion in the movie, and also explain how they know that they they have witnessed erosion, and not weathering in the clip. For in-depth worksheets, I found the following website: Looking forward to learning more about other movies everyone is using!

Michael Leslie Michael Leslie 2110 Points

Thank you everyone before for the great links on science videos. I regularly use discovery education as well to show my students visually the effects or impacts of science. Recently we read a story about the tsunami that hit Thailand in 2004 and all of my students had no idea what a tsunami looked like or how it behaved. Many students thought you can ride a tsunami like a normal wave but after watching the video from Discover education they understood the brutal force of a tsunami, how it was formed and what to do if there ever was a tsunami.

Paula Evans Paula Roknick-Evans 2640 Points

Hi All, I am also taking the Science in Movies course, and it's really helped me figure out what movie clips to show with concepts being taught. I have played with various ideas, like showing short clips versus longer clips, popular movies to science content, and also when during a unit these clips best foster student understanding of the concept. I am slowly coming to the conclusion that for my particular fourth graders, showing short clips towards the end of a unit has really been helpful in cementing various science concepts while the introduction clips are great for hooks at the beginning. It's been a fun year so far because there are so many great movies to show. I love this thread, you all give me so many great ideas!

 Stephanie Coy 1720 Points

I agree with showing small clips of movies and tv shows. With the samples you can show what you need to help teach the lesson, but also might gain some interest in the students to watch it on their own.

Margeaux Ikuma Margeaux Ikuma 620 Points

Hi Everyone, Thank you for your ideas about showing videos in the classroom. I am working with 3rd graders this year and we will soon be learning about the interdependent relationship between plants and animals. Students will learn how plants depend on animals for purposes such as: pollination, oxygen/carbon dioxide exchange, and seed dispersal. When thinking specifically about seed dispersal, I hope to show a short clip from “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids”. The sequence where the ant-size children hop on their dog’s fur to hitch a ride back to the house. I’m hoping that this will be an entertaining way to view seed dispersal. For the technology that was available at the time, the movie provides an excellent zoomed-in view and experience of what it might be like to be affixed to an animal’s fur. I hope to also generate a few questions to help the students to question and challenge the depiction with their knowledge of seed dispersal. Finally, an entertaining learning activity might be to have the students write from the perspective of a little seed and its quest to find a new home. Kids always astound me with their creativity and VOICE!

Lori Towata Lori Towata 2825 Points

Margueax, That was a great suggestion about "Honey I Shrunk the Kids"--I'm sure many of our students haven't seen it since it's an older movie. I think you could also use segments of one of my favorite movies, "Wall-E" because of how the seedling is collected and transported. The "end credits" of the movie actually shows how the people come back to Earth to replant life.

Nahomy Rojas Nahomy Rojas 2670 Points

Margeaux, I think you have an excellent system of showing the video twice, and allowing the students to enjoy it the first time. I remember when teachers would tell us to jot down 10 points during the video that we would hurry up and write the first 10 things that the video said and we wouldn't really be able to take in what was going on in the video. I think that by showing the video twice the students will have an easier time making connections of the important concepts in class.

Theresa Smith Theresa Smith 3450 Points

Some movies that I think I would like to show my students when I am in a classroom are Happy Feet, Ice Age, and Wall-E. Ice Age explores changes in temperature and organism adaptation/migration, and can also be connected to the idea of endangered or extinct species. Happy Feet portrays the burdens of overfishing on animals (penguins) and also hints toward the concepts of food chains. Wall-E is relevant because it is such a dramatic (but "fun") depiction of how wasteful people can be of their resources, treating the Earth like a wasteland, and submerging into a state of perpetual lethargy and negligence. They seem like good movies to show in class, though I am not sure what age-group they would be appropriate for-especially if they are going to be used as topics for group discussion or deeper interpretation.

Catherine Lee Catherine Lee 2720 Points

I remember in middle school, I really enjoyed watching the Bill Nye videos. I do not have a big interest in science, but Bill Nye caught my attention. It was fun, entertaining, and educational at the same time. My teacher showed us different videos that related to the topic we were learning and I obtained some interesting facts from the videos. I remember Bill would repeat certain phrases multiple times and this would mean that what he said was important. It was nice to watch these videos because it gave the class a break from just sitting and listening to the teacher talk. So, I think it is important to incorporate videos and movies that relate to science topics in science classes because it really helps catch the students attention.

Jennifer Perry Jennifer Perry 2250 Points

My resource teacher provided some short clips of several movies that could be used in physical science class. Last week, I happened to show the clips from "Gone in 60 Seconds" where Cage races the car up the ramp and over a line of cars on the bridge. On Wednesday when these 9th graders came to class, 3 boys stated that the movie was on TV and that they watched it. One of them said it was not logically possible for a car to be able to make that leap and land in a condition to continue driving. The other rwo immediately agreed. I did not know what to say about whether that was a possible stunt or a result of a lot of editing. Do any of you know?

Alayna Maldonado Alayna Maldonado 1750 Points

I am also taking the Science in Movies course. I have gotten several ideas from resources the course coordinator has sent us and from ideas on the forums. Movies such as Toy Story 3, Up, and Wall-E all have some great clips to show to spark discussions on science concepts. Up is a great movie with some interesting ideas. I was thinking about showing clips from the movie and asking my kids if they thought the amount of balloons used to float the house would actually float a house in real life (it would not). I was thinking of having them build a small model of a house, maybe with a small milk carton (the kind you get from school lunch). They could then make a hypothesis about how many balloons it would take to lift the “house” off the ground. I could attach helium balloons one by one until the house starts to lift off the ground. I thought it would be a cute idea to use with the Scientific Process and to get my students thinking about how not everything they see in movies is scientifically factual.

Margeaux Ikuma Margeaux Ikuma 620 Points

Thank you Alayna for sharing your great suggestion of Up. I love your use of movies to spark students’ interest in the scientific process. Your question of “Would this really work?” Is sure to ignite intense discussions amongst your students, and it will definitely be a thrill for them to see in action. Your idea is so exciting, that it might even inspire students to enter the realm of engineering by asking them, “What can we design to make a house fly/float?” Or it might even move into a discussion about ratio and proportion, since your experiment is using a small scale representation of a house by asking, “Using multiplication, how many balloons would it take to lift a house?” I was also considering using “Wall-E” as a conversation starter or maybe a conclusion to our environmental science unit. We are studying animal adaptations and have visited the Honouliuli Wetlands with the Hawaii Nature Center. The field trip has motivated students to take care of their environment, and protect the native plants and animals. And perhaps “Wall=E” can be used to discuss, “Do you think THIS could really happen?”

Michael Leslie Michael Leslie 2110 Points

Hello everyone. I just recently was rummaging through some old videos to make room for my daughter’s DVDs and I found a very old copy of Fern Gully. I’m not sure anyone remembers this movie but it is a great movie about how humans are effecting the environment and in this movie it’s a company trying to destroy and use the forest for their own profit. This is a great introduction to not only how to protect the environment but also you could introduce ecosystems. What are some other videos that no one might know about that we can use in our classes?

Pamela Auburn Pamela Auburn 68625 Points

Earlier this week I attended a workshop of developing "freshman Seminar" courses. Science in the movies would be perfect. Here are a few resources I found online Cognitive Science Movie Index Swank Motion Pictures has movies that enhance your science exhibits at your museum or that discuss current topics.

Jennifer Perry Jennifer Perry 2250 Points

While researching what might happen if the earth stopped spinning, I came across the Doppler effect and a link to The Right Stuff, and the breaking of the sound barrier by Chuck Yeager in 1947. This film was made in 1983 and I had never seen it. There are several parts that can be downloaded from You Tube, but the film in its entirety is over 3 hours long and is about the beginning of our space program.

Jennifer M Tanko Jennifer M Tanko 2190 Points

Adah, I love that resource you posted with the good vs bad science in contemporary science fiction! That could be an interesting project in itself, for older or more science-geared students--have them argue whether or not science in a particular film, book or tv episode is correct or not and justify their answers. What a fun project this could be! Thanks!

Margeaux Ikuma Margeaux Ikuma 620 Points

Hi Michael, Thanks for your suggestion of “Fern Gully”. It was one of my favorite movies growing up! And you’re right, it highlights perfectly the effects that humans have on the environment. Especially when you read picture books like “The Great Kapok Tree”, the students really begin to become advocates for the environment. I was thinking that a similar movie to use would be “Avatar”. I am not quite sure which clip to show, but this movie also highlights the effects of man destroying an environment for capital gain. Thanks again Michael for your suggestion!

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