Honestly, my trip to the elementary school today reminded me of Ms. Frizzle and the Magic School Bus. Or maybe Bill Nye. Either way, it brought me back to elementary school when learning something new in science made me feel like the smartest person in the world. I can only hope these kids felt just as smart after learning about the realities of how science is portrayed in movies.
The first response about the Indiana Jones clip, one little girl in my group said that she thought he could survive because the refrigerator was lined with lead. I didn’t think many would catch that small detail but they completely understood. William, the shy boy in my group, also said that refrigerators are “durable” and meant to hold up to pressure. One thing we had not even thought about, a second girl in the group mentioned that the refrigerator would have gotten hot on the outside so he would have been burned if he was on the inside of it during the explosion. I was impressed by how well thought out their responses were.
For The Core video clip, the students were very knowledgeable about the physical makeup of the earth. The even said that the center is metal but we don’t know exactly what it is yet. Their responses for this clip exactly proved the research article we read about perceptions. They thought that because the scientist had been correct about comparing the earth to a peach, everything else he said was correct. I’m not sure if they knew much about the electromagnetic field but because they had not yet learned about that, they assumed it was right. I took this opportunity to explain how we were trying to show them that everything in movies and about science is not accurate. They should question what they hear.
In the last clip about the volcano in Dante’s Peak, the students could clearly determine that it was not realistic. They knew how pressure built up and eventually forced the volcano to rupture. They knew that lava was hot though and that it burned the area around the volcano. One girl broke it down to the fact that if the car was on fire because the lava was hot, the engine would explode. They were also not fooled by the melting tires, knowing that they could not have driven through that. The same girl said it seemed more like science-fiction to her, which she didn’t like very much.
Overall, I was surprised by how smart these kids truly were. They seemed to be very well learned in the area of science. The boy’s father was a geologist, he told us, so perhaps the children who take an interest in science are the ones whose parents encourage it. I really think they took what we had to say and will learn from it. After discussing the clips, we talked about other movies they’ve seen where not everything was true. Basically we got the point across to them: “science is never wrong” but movies are.