Carolina Biological OSE - December 2023


Earth and Space Science


Author Post
Tabitha (Booth) Secretario Tabitha Booth 3385 Points

I've been teaching Earth science for a few years and the other 8th grade Science teachers play a lot of movies. To me, they seem like a waste of time, I or students often reference a movie in discussions and students will say, "Let's watch it!" And I'll say, "Good idea, why don't you watch it tonight on Netfix," but they rarely ever do, they just complain about how unfair it is that the other students get to watch movies but really seriously, don't we watch enough TV? And how are movies like Twister and The Perfect Storm worth two class periods? Am I crazy or being too strict? Are there any popular movies out there that anyone could recommend that does a good job of teaching Earth Science concepts?

Cris DeWolf Cris DeWolf 11965 Points

If you haven't already, I'd suggest signing up as a NASA Explorer School teacher. You do not have to join as an entire school as in the past. They have some great relevant (short) videos on a variety of earth and space science topics. No need to use an entire class period (or more) on a film.

Pamela Auburn Pamela Auburn 68625 Points

Tabitha, I just found this online Best Movies for Earth Science with Free Printable Follow-Up Lesson Plans By Marilisa Sachteleben Teaching earth science, geology or geography classes? Need a list of great movies to use as the basis for some your lesson plans and classroom exploration? This list includes movies and links for free printable follow up lesson plans. These movies cover many aspects of earth science in an exciting, visceral way. Twister: (1996, Bill Paxton, Helen Hunt) Heart-pounding action from start to finish, Twister uses mid 1990s computer generation to show the action of tornadoes in a believable way. Twister shows two storm chasing teams compete to develop accurate tornado tracking and monitoring devices. The cheesy little back-burner love triangle between storm chasers doesn't detract from the main concept of this geological thriller, Twister. For free printable lesson plans and follow up activities from Twister, click here. Vertical Limit: (2000 Chris O'Donnell, Bill Paxton, Scott Glenn) In Vertical Limit, climbers attempt to scale K-2 one of the largest Everest mountains peaks. When one team gets separated and trapped the others must attempt a rescue during a brutal storm. Vertical Limit shows conditions a top the mountains as well as the effects of high altitude on the human body. Vertical Limit shows excellent scenes of mountain climbing action. For free printable lesson plans to accompany Vertical Limit click here. The Perfect Storm: (2000 George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, John C. Reilly) The crew of a small fishing boat is caught off the shores of Glouchester Massachusetts between to huge storm systems, The Perfect Storm. The filmography is intense. The Perfect Storm also gives good insight into the use of radar in weather study. Preview The Perfect Storm to edit out some superfluous and somewhat crude parts that are not necessary to the plot. The Perfect Storm in based upon the book by the same name by Sebastian Junger. For lesson plans on The Perfect Storm, click here. For more free printable lesson plans, visit me at For more lesson plans, visit For more movie lists for classroom use, visit me at More resources

Pamela Auburn Pamela Auburn 68625 Points

Science Daily has an aggregation is earth science videos here

Tabitha (Booth) Secretario Tabitha Booth 3385 Points

Thank you for the suggestions, I'm happy to see the movies that others are showing are considered relevant and I am totally open to showing clips as anticipatory sets. Have a great long weekend everyone:)

Pamela Auburn Pamela Auburn 68625 Points

The Academy of Motion Pictures, in cooperation with Young Minds Inspired, produces a series of teacher's guides that explore the art and science of motion pictures. The activities are designed to capitalize on students' natural interest in current films and the excitement generated by the Academy Awards to teach valuable lessons in critical thinking and creative writing, and to develop visual literacy skills. Each teaching guide is available in its entirety to download and print.

Yesenia Gonzalez Yesenia Gonzalez 11090 Points

armaggedon with bruce willis is a great movie if you want to go into details about astroids. you dont have to show the entire movie just clips of how they describe the astroid, how its created, how much a size of the astroid can do in damage. especially now with the meteor hitting Russia, its a great time to discuss that.

Nora Kelly Nora 395 Points

Hi Tabitha, I don't know if your school has a subscription to Discovery Education, but I find the educational videos to be very informative and interesting for the students. There are short videos on any topic lasting about 5 minutes each, if you'd like to check it out!

Mitchell Miho Mitchell Miho 3090 Points

I did show my students "The Core", which is about the Earth's core dying, which in turn causes our magnetic field to diminish. I found that most of my students enjoyed the movie and were engaged. I threw this into the mix after we did the Sun and during the Earth's layers and Plate Tectonics. Although the drilling and traveling through the earth is irrational, it does mention a lot of factual information about the Earth's layers and how our electromagnetic field is protecting us from the sun and the radiation generated from it.

Mitchell Miho Mitchell Miho 3090 Points

I know that it is riddled with a lot of false information, but the story and some of the scientific concepts mentioned gave me an idea of allowing them to do a myth buster activity. A lot of the facts presented and scenarios are extravagant so the students were prompted to pick a scene from The Day After Tomorrow and do a research paper on whether or not the disasters in the movie were possible on that scale. In the end this was a good opportunity to link literacy and science, along with having them present these natural disasters, their causes, and the elements that are needed for them to occur to the rest of their peers. I know it's frowned upon to show full movies in class, but the result and outcome of this lesson was something I would do again. This is also perfect because it branches off into the many subtopics that come with our ocean unit. SOme of the topics chosen were North Atlantic current, climate change, greenhouse gases and polar ice cap effects, hurricanes, flash freeze, tornadoes, hail, etc. I also allow my students to watch videos and movie clips once in a while in order to break up their boredom and frustration with note taking and researching for projects.

Stephen Pederson Stephen Pederson 760 Points

I tend to stay away from full movies in class because I just don't have time to get through all the material. I do however play a lot of video clips that enhance and supplement the content. I find 3-4 minutes max is all they can take before getting off topic unless it is something they are really interested in. The later is why I am constantly looking for new material.

Tabitha (Booth) Secretario Tabitha Booth 3385 Points

Just checking in...are there any new movies or TV shows worth showing?

Megan Doty Megan Doty 11847 Points

Hi Tabitha, I hope your school year has started off well! Have you considered having the students make their own movies? I found this article that discusses how to incorporate movie-making software into your classroom: Do you think this is something that could be implemented in your class? -Megan

April Santillan April Santillan 80 Points

Showing short educational clips followed by discussions may do the trick. Maybe towards the end of the year you can show one movie if you feel they've been working hard enough (as a little treat).

Brooke Bartels Brooke Bartels 4295 Points

I remember growing up on Bill Nye the Science Guy. My science teacher would always put them on. Anyway, I do hear that National Geographic and the history channel website have great videos (long and short, and various grades) that are academically acceptable and really engaging for students. Also some youtube videos are great wonders. I think being cautious and talking with your administration as well as your teaching team is what to do. I think having some technology involved is a way to pull the students in and engage them before the teaching part. I also think technology can be useful and doesn't have to be used every day or every week. There are other instructional strategies out there to use too, to pull the students in. Thanks for a great and thoughtful post!

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