The Good and Bad Science in Popular Sci-fi Movies

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 Core

The Core

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 mantle rocks.
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.

Jurassic Park

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

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

Dante's Peak

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!

Web page design, contents and all graphics are © Geolor's Exclusive Graphic Designs, Geolor.com, Geoteach.com;
2006, 2008; All Rights Reserved.
Graphic images and text may not be used in the classroom or on web sites without providing credit back to Geolor.com.
Hotlinking of graphic images on external web sites, using Geolor.com web addresses, is not allowed.

Valid HTML 4.01 Transitional