American Experience: Tesla (2016) is a biographical look inside the mind of one of America’s greatest inventors. Nikola Tesla is best remembered for making alternating current the standard by which we power modern society. But this documentary also looks into his business dealings, scientific speculations, numerous electrical patents, and futuristic dreams that made him a scientific prophet, years ahead of his time. This documentary also looks into his eccentricities and his ungrounded imagination which fueled his greatness but was also the cause of his downfall.
Apollo 13 (1995, PG-13) is the real-life story of heroism, courage, and survival onboard the doomed flight of Apollo 13. This movie guide worksheet examines the storyline of the movie, while asking higher-order thinking questions about the plot, character development, situational dilemmas, and the meaning behind the symbolism as the movie unfolds. At its core, the film tells a story about faith in technology and faith in the strength of human willpower needed to overcome technological malfunctions in a life-or-death fight for survival. Only 3 of the 46 questions directly related to the physics shown in the movie, so being familiar with Newton’s laws will be necessary to answer those. One of those physics questions hits on a violation of Newton’s Laws shown in the movie. Topics alluded to include the space race, American history, engineering and design, spaceflight, course trajectories, course corrections, inertial properties, Newton’s Laws of Motion, and Newton’s Law of Universal Gravitation.
This movie is appropriate for the following classes: physics, astronomy, physical science, general science, and American history.
The runtime for the movie is 2:14 minutes, designed to be shown over 3 days of class. The movie will play for roughly 45 minutes each day, allowing time at the end of class for a teacher-facilitated discussion or individual student answers. The movie guide worksheet is 5 pages long, with a total of 46 questions.
This movie chronicles the development of America’s space program from Chuck Yeager breaking the sound barrier to John Glenn’s orbit of the Earth. The film touches on a number of scientific, social, and engineering topics. The theme of the movie centers around humanity’s drive to push the boundaries of what is possible, in terms of the marriage between science and technology. But sprinkled in that marriage is the human element, complete with the highs and lows that result from trying to push the envelope.