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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?
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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.
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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 www.freeprintablelessonplans.blogspot.com. For more lesson plans, visit www.freelessonplans4u.blogspot.com. For more movie lists for classroom use, visit me at www.educationalmovies.blogspot.com.
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Science Daily has an aggregation is earth science videos here
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:)
You might like to check out ,as well, the NSTA columnist Jacob Clark Blickenstaff, PhD
He writes a column Blick on Flicks
To help us sort the good science from the bad in movies and other visual media, Jacob Clark Blickenstaff, PhD, provides expert commentary, pointing out where the physics is stretched, the chemistry fudged, or the biology twisted on behalf of the story—without losing sight of the fact that movies are meant to entertain.
Jacob helps turn "bad science" into teachable science for middle level and high school students.
Blick on Flicks is a regular column in NSTA Reports and a periodic feature of NSTA WebNews.
Arlene Jurewicz Leighton
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As an additional note to what Arlene posted, I have heard Bick talk at NSTA conferences, and like you, Tabitha, he suggests video clips.
I actually do show a couple full movies a year but students were required to use them to identify good and bad science examples and we reflected on the role of science in popular media and how important it is to watch movies and tv with a critical eye - I Never show Twister because there is so much bad science I tend to scream at the movie (blushes) but I do show Deep Impact, the Discovery Channel program SuperVolcano or Dante's Peak (generally the former), and Apollo 13 for various reasons and all have worksheets I have students complete with questions about the science, the bad science, and how society and science interact throughout the movie. I may show one video a year, I may show three - it depends on my curriculum. I do tend to show one during weeks when students get pulled out for events or family vacations as they can do it on their own outside of school and not fall behind (even though they miss the classroom discussions about meanings and critiques).
There are a number of interesting articles on the topic of movies in the classroom that I have collected here.
It all reminds me of a state farm commercial that plays here constantly...(not to advertise for them myself, but I think showing it to students for a discussion of truth in media advertising as well as media in general works pretty well - anyway here is the link)
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I think what you have shared here is great information! As a current college student pursuing a degree in education, I often find it difficult to always find other ways to bring science into the classroom, and videos/movies is a easy, fun, but also engaging way to do just that and I never realized that before! I also really like that you have your students fill out worksheets as they are watching, that way they are actually paying attention. I remember watching many videos/movies throughout my elementary, middle, and high school years and it was always a great feeling when you got to just watch it without taking notes, but I learned so much more and payed a lot more attention when the teacher has required us to take notes. I'm also glad you shared some of the stuff you share, as it is always nice to have resources in mind when it comes to teaching, especially as a new teacher! Thanks for the great ideas, and in my future classroom, if I decide to show a video or a movie, I will make sure I have somethings for my students to fill out in order to keep them paying attention and to help engage them more in the classroom!
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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.
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.
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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!
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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.
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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.
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.
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Just checking in...are there any new movies or TV shows worth showing?
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?
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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).
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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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