Teachers often like to show science related movies in their classroom and
students, who intrinsically enjoy Sci-fi movies may want to boost their science
grade while watching something they enjoy.
Three sets of documents are available which examine the real and the make
believe in The Core, the Jurassic Park films, The Day After Tomorrow and
Dante's Peak. These postings do not put down nor bash any of the movies but
rather they seek to clarify good and bad science and provide teachers and
students with essays and/or worksheets which reinforce what is seen and heard
in the films while not detracting from the viewer's enjoyment.
The Earth's outer core has stopped rotating. The result is disruptions in
the planet's electromagnetic field, massive and dangerous electrical storms,
and powerful solar generated microwaves that are capable of melting the Golden
Gate Bridge and which eventually will "cook" planet Earth.
In order to restart the liquid outer core's rotation a group of 'terranauts'
must drill through the Earth's crust and mantle then set off nuclear bombs
to initiate core movement. Dr. Brazzleton has developed a way to drill through
rock using ultrasound waves. They make the journey to the inner core in a
craft named Virgil, which is capable of drilling through the hard and dense
The special effects in the movie are excellent and, if one puts aside all
judgment as to whether what they see is fact or fiction, many people in the
viewing audience will find the film to be exciting and often thrilling.
However, there is both good and bad science presented in the movie and those
who watch The Core may want to know what is true and what is false. The
Core: The Good and Bad Science in the Movie explores the film's good and
bad Biology, Geology and Physics. Linked from the document is a page with
10 essay questions that could be used by teachers who show the movie in their
classrooms as well as by individual students seeking extra science credit
to improve their grade. An Adobe Acrobat .Pdf version of the document is also
available. It contains both the research into the scientific facts and the
sample essays and it is linked from the online page.
The Jurassic Park Movies
Jurassic park films have thrilled audiences for years. Many people love the
very idea of dinosaurs and are fascinated by their size and diversity. Yet,
the idea of dinosaurs walking among us today is both an intriguing and a frightening
thought. The Jurassic Park movies present us with that very scenario, i.e.
dinosaurs brought back to life 65 million years after their extinction. What
ensues are disasters beyond imagination.
All 3 movies sought the guidance and advise of renown paleontologists in order
to render a production based in part on sound scientific facts and hypotheses.
Over the time period spanning the production of the 3 films, the 'dinosaurs
movie stars' evolve based on new discoveries that inevitably altered what
scientists knew about different dinosaur species with respect to their appearance,
abilities and their inferred habitats and behavior. Jurassic
Park: Fact versus Fiction takes a look at the science behind the productions
in order to sort out what was based on truth and what was embellished for
the 'big screen'.
The purpose of the document is not to take apart and examine each of the 3
individual Jurassic Park movies but rather to explore the overall factual
and fictitious aspects of the films in general. Occasionally, however, references
are made to a specific movie in the trilogy in order to compare changes in
a dinosaur species and/or its environment.
Linked from the document is a page with sample essay questions that could
be used by teachers who show the movies in their classrooms as well as by
individual students seeking extra science credit to improve their grade.
The Day After Tomorrow
Global warming has disrupted the Gulf Stream and the current
abruptly stops flowing. Without the warming effects of the Gulf Stream ocean
current the Northern Hemisphere is plunged into a severe deep freeze. Millions
will perish as a continental glacier grows and moves in a southward direction.
The special effects in the film are awesome and there are a few sound scientific
facts underlying the basic plot of the movie. However, the wave if global
cooling overtaking the planet is exaggerated for the big screen. The
Day After Tomorrow explores the true science behind the movie and mentions
where the truth was stretched out of proportion.
Included are sample essay questions that could be used by teachers who show
the movies in their classrooms as well as by individual students seeking extra
science credit to improve their grade.
An Adobe Acrobat .Pdf version of the document is also available. It contains
both the research into the scientific facts and the sample essays and it is
linked from the online page.
Dante's Peak, a thrilling movie with awesome special effects, was clearly
based on the 1980 eruption of Mt. St. Helens. Many newsworthy events that
actually took place during the volcano's eruption were reworked and embellished
in the film therefore the fine line between what can and cannot happen when
a stratovolcano erupts is sometimes difficult to discern.
Three documents relating to the fact and fiction in Dante's Peak are available
for teachers and students to use either inside or outside the classroom setting. Dante's
Peak: Fact versus Fiction Lesson This short lesson explores the reality
of a Composite Volcano eruption. Various events in the film are discussed
and explanations given as to why actual scenes were either factual or exaggerated.
This short lesson is best read before watching the movie. Dante's
Peak - Fact and Fiction Student Worksheet On this printable worksheet
is a chart with 2 columns labeled Fact and Fiction. As something is noticed
in the movie that either supports a fact or departs from it in order to create
more drama in the film, it is listed in the appropriate column on the worksheet. Dante's
Peak Fact and Fiction Handouts - A Word to the Teacher Just a few suggestions
concerning the use of the above two resources in a Science classroom.
Enjoy the Movies but know the Science!
L. Immoor BA, MA
Hempstead New York
Earth Sciences, Geology