Gravity (2013) is a stunning movie exploring the potential dangers of space and the physics behind them. This movie captivates the students through dazzling visuals, but the movie guide keeps them focused on analyzing the physics behind the scenes. Having said that, there are very accurate and inaccurate depictions of Newton’s Laws of Motion. But the inaccuracies add to the dramatic tension and advance the storyline of the movie. The movie guide is designed to have the students analyze the physics of the movie scenes, choose which of Newton’s Laws applies, and then describe why it applies or why it is inaccurate. The movie guide does not analyze the plot or emotional arcs during the movie, it just sticks to the physics behind each scene. The movie guide is best used for classes like physics, physical science, or astronomy.
Interstellar (2014) is a masterpiece of visual artistry and a well of accurate scientific information. The storyline seamlessly blends the human element with aspects of Einstein’s theory of Relativity in a fight-for-survival of the human race. This movie is standard viewing for any physics class where relativity is taught. Appropriate classes for this movie guide would be physics, astronomy, or physical science. The movie guide consists of 32 physics-related higher-order questions. There are no questions relating to the storyline or emotional arcs presented in the plot. Topics discussed include, relativity, time dilation, the fabric of space-time, spatial geometry, black holes, worm holes, singularities, event horizons, the twin’s paradox, Newton’s Laws of Motion, Newtons Third Law, gravitational pull, magnetism, multiple dimensions, higher dimensions, centripetal force, and aero braking.
The runtime is 2:25, over the course of five days. Each day consists of roughly 30-36 minutes of viewing time, leaving extra time for students to complete the questions, or facilitate classroom discussion. But when showing this to my students, I typically pause the movie at certain junctures explaining what is happening and why. The students greatly appreciate this. It lends to a deepened appreciation of the film.
The Mythbuster team puts conspiracy theories to the test when they examine whether or not NASA really went to the moon. In this episode, they examine photographic evidence concerning lights and shadows, lunar footprints, slow motion special effects, and apparent flag waving. Scientific topics include light angles, geometry, illusions, vacuums, molecular attractions, the albedo effect, light reflection, inertia, momentum, gravitational pull, bodily kinesthetics, vomit comet, parabolic arcs, zero g, geologic processes, weight conversions, atmospheric pressure, and laser reflections.