Hollywood Science - call for clips for on screen science

Note: these articles have been published in InfoChem, the suppliment to Education in Chemistry produced by The Royal Society of Chemistry.

Could Bruce Willis have survived the fall in Die hard? Do acid lakes exist and could you cross one in a metal boat as they did in Dantes Peak? What is Kevin Costner actually drinking at the start of Waterworld? The answers to these and ‘similar’ questions can be found in Education in Chemistry’s student supplement, InfoChem under the auspices of On-screen chemistry by Jonathan Hare.

The series is based on the Hollywood science (HS) series, broadcast a few years ago on BBC TV and presented by myself and Robert Lewellyn (Red Dwarf and Scrap Heap Challenge). The idea is to scrutinise carefully selected short clips from films (Internet or TV) and ask: ‘Could this really be done or is it just a ‘Hollywood’ stunt? It’s a way to explore what might really be possible, to try out ‘back-of-the envelope’ type calculations, and get experience of making estimates in science.

Such ‘thought experiments’ can be a creative way of generating discussion and intriguing exploration of existing knowledge and learning in a new setting. They can provide teachers with a motivating resource and science ‘pick-me-up’ for a class. I have found that using just three clips along with time for discussion and presentation of some simple back-of-the envelop type calculations can easily fill an hour with the students (at GCSE and Alevel) wanting more and intrigued to go home and look again at their favourite films. This type of analysis enhances and inspires their learning and thinking of science.

Please send me your favourite film clip or TV moment and I will investigate them further and then share my analysis through the InfoChem articles. I am also available for giving Hollywood Science talks in schools, colleges and Science festivals etc.

Dr Jonathan Hare
e-mail: j.p.hare@sussex.ac.uk

Jonathan's CSC TV page


Dr Jonathan Hare, The University of Sussex
Brighton, East Sussex. BN1 9QJ.

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