Physics in Film

Debra Blake Semmler, Science teacher, East Mecklenburg High School




Have you ever wondered if it is possible for a bus to jump a 50 foot chasm and continue to drive at 50 mph? Could you survive an elevator free-fall of five stories? Overtime will seeing the impossible become possible make us believe that buses can jump a 50 foot chasm?

In my curriculum unit I want my students to deconstruct scenes from action-adventures movies and use their knowledge of physics principles to prove that what they are seeing with their own eyes is either possible or not. The students will apply their knowledge of projectile motion, circular motion; use the principles of conservation of momentum and circuit analysis to determine if what they see in action-adventure movies is truly possible. The overriding objective for this curriculum unit is for the students to realize that science is everywhere not just a subject studied in school. That through the exposure to bad movie physics their perception of how the natural world works has been altered. The principles studied in physics class can be used to investigate more than book problems but great action from their favorite movies.