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Month: August 2009

Wake Up, Freak Out – then Get a Grip

I’ve already blogged about climate change videos but wanted to post this film by Leo Murray separately because it really is in a class of its own. It’s a beautifully animated, thought-provoking film, and one which I think students will enjoy watching. You can find the HD version here. There is some good science in the film, with clear explanations of mechanisms that cause climate change and of how we might reach a “tipping point”. (Leo provides a copy of the script, including references here.) However, it is an unashamedly… Read more Wake Up, Freak Out – then Get a Grip

An Inconvenient Truth – Al Gore’s film is not very good.

I imagine every school in the country has got at least one copy of An Inconvenient Truth lying around somewhere, but, in my opinion, there are better free films out there for teachers wanting some kind of video resource to help teach about climate change. An Inconvenient Truth is just too long for use in class and, frankly, just too boring. Al Gore’s film is worthy but dull and really only suitable for use if you’ve not bothered to plan your lesson or if you want to send a particularly… Read more An Inconvenient Truth – Al Gore’s film is not very good.

Powers of 10 / Our Place in the Universe

This classic film is a work of art that just happens to lend itself quite nicely to a bit of KS4 Physics. “The film starts with a sleeping man at a picnic and every ten seconds, the camera moves ten times further away, measured in meters. When we get to the edge of the known universe, the journey reverses and we get ten times closer with each image. We enter the sleeping man’s hand and go deeper and deeper until we finally reach the level of a quark”. Below is… Read more Powers of 10 / Our Place in the Universe

The Science of Skin

Skin colour matters to our students. As much as we’d like to pretend otherwise, it’s still something that plays a big role in how they define each other and how they define themselves. I’ve found that my students are fascinated by the brief discussion we have about skin colour when looking at melanin in the P2 unit of the 21st Century Science course. It’s refreshing for them to take a scientific look at the issue and it’s definitely one of the “relevant” bits of the course that actually makes an… Read more The Science of Skin

A is for Atom

This animated film from 1953 is charming. It’s an unashamedly didactic film, but done with wit and style. It contains a lot of material that students are required to learn at GCSE. In may ways, it’s better than some of the more recent films that cover this material and I feel it’s worth showing for the historical content alone (something that is often missing from modern textbook treatments). If your students can get over giggling at the 1950s narration, I think they’ll find this a really interesting and useful film… Read more A is for Atom

Life on Mars

It’s surprising how few teachers seem to have heard of the TED Talks. They are, simply, brilliant. More teachers should be “spreading the ideas” in them to their students. I’m going to try and post more videos here that are particularly suitable to the KS4 curriculum. Some of the best talks have no direct link to the curriculum but are nonetheless worth giving up 20 minutes of class time for. I treated one of my Year 10 classes to this talk by Dan Gilbert which shows how science can help… Read more Life on Mars

The Periodic Table of Videos: a great idea ruined by poor execution

The University of Nottingham’s Periodic Table of Videos is a genius idea – one that I wish I had come up with myself. I’d really like to recommend the site to teachers because short videos of those elements you can’t show in class would be incredibly useful. Unfortunately, due to the varying quality of the videos, the site fails to live up to its potential. The idea of inter-cutting footage of demonstrations with a scientist talking about the element just doesn’t work in a lot of the videos; I would… Read more The Periodic Table of Videos: a great idea ruined by poor execution

Supermagnetic beads – a new demo?

If you’re a science teacher, you’ll probably have to teach separation techniques to at least one class at some point in the year. I’m sure you’ll have taught the arts of filtering, distillation and chromatography endless times, but here’s a separation technique I’ll bet you’ve never seen – and one that will make an excellent short demonstration in class when teaching this topic: This wonderful little film was made by Dr Jim Caryl.