Blue Planet (1990) is an ecological documentary filmed originally in IMAX. It was filmed using footage from the space shuttle flights, which lends to an inclusive view of humanity’s impact on the planet. It is interesting how we view the planet a single unified organism when our perspective changes to that from space. The documentary does not get very technical as to the scientific explanations for human induced climate change, but it does present the concepts in an easy to understand manner. This would be a good documentary to show from grades 6 through 9. Higher order thinking questions dominate the guide, but there are some basic fact questions scattered in as well. The best use for this film would be as an introductory explanation to climate change, geography, and how the two relate to the evolution of life on Earth. It also shows the fragility of life and what makes it so special to our planet in the cosmos.
COSMOS Episode 6: Deeper, Deeper, Deeper Still (2014) relates our understanding (and subsequent interpretation) of reality to our rather limited perspectives of scale. Neil DeGrasse Tyson reveals reality from a subatomic scale to the entire known universe. He tells the story of evolutionary processes that work on different levels of size and scale. Tyson links the deep relationship the atoms we are made from with their creation from the ashes of stars that exploded before the sun was even formed.
This episode examines the plausibility of life on other worlds, how it might evolve, and what it might look like. Hawking takes the audience on a 13.8-billion-year journey examining our own origins, describing the conditions necessary for life to evolve, and then hypothesizes the likelihood of it happening elsewhere in the universe.
Origins: Where Are the Aliens? (2004) is a NOVA documentary, hosted by Neil DeGrasse Tyson, that examines the science behind the search for extraterrestrial life, what it might look like, and techniques used to find extra solar planets. Neil DeGrasse Tyson explains that life might not look like we see in the movies and that, based on scientific finding, life could theoretically arise in the most extreme of environments. He also discusses the Drake equation, modifying some of the variables to get a better understanding of just how often life might arise in the galaxy and if that life could lead to civilizations with the ability to communicate between the stars.
This documentary would be an excellent showing for the following classes: biology, astronomy, astrophysics, and physical science. Of the 39 questions on this documentary video guide, the overwhelming majority are higher-order in nature, with only a scattering of lower-level types.
The concepts discussed include: biodiversity, evolution, the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence, SETI, the Frank Drake equation, indirect viewing techniques, star wobble, red and blue shifted light, liquid water and life, Europa, intelligent life and evolution, asteroid impacts, and mass extinctions.