A couple years ago I began using video clips in my continuing education classes for teachers. Why? Short movie excerpts have the powerful ability to:
- illustrate a point
- incite discussion
- provide a humorous "jumping off point" for a particular concept
- pose "real life" problem solving
- capture students' attention
- address a variety of student learning styles
- present a wide variety of mathematical strands
- help students to consider what they know and what they have yet to learn
Consider this clip from the movie, Father of the Bride. Mr. Banks is frustrated by the fact that hotdog buns come in packs of 12 while hotdogs come in packs of 8. Pose the question to students:
How many packs of each would he need to buy to make the hotdogs and buns come out even?
Here's a clip from Ma and Pa Kettle. I love this clip because it illustrates how important it is for students to explain not only WHAT the answer is but also HOW they got an answer. Can your student explain where Ma/Pa went wrong in each proof?
I also enjoy math problems from game shows. Students of all ages like to feel smarter than television competition. (Why else are game shows so successful?) Here's an excerpt from Who Wants to Be a Millionaire in which actress Patricia Heaton struggles to answer the following question:
If a Euro is $1.50, five Euros is worth what?
A. Thirty quarters
B. Fifty dimes
C. Seventy nickels
D. Ninety pennies
Many more online resources are available on math in the movies:
Math and the Movies: Two teachers list many movie excerpts and provide free pdf lessons to go with each.
Mathematics in Movies: A Harvard professor has collected an extensive collection of movie titles. He includes the movie clips in a library on his site.
Simpsons Math: Math lessons using episodes from The Simpsons.
The Math in the Movies page: guide to major motion pictures with math scenes.
PBS Teachers Mathline: math movie activities.
Math at the Movies: examples, photos, exercises.
Countdown: using technology of Quicktime to develop math skills.
LivingMathForum: Julie compiled a list of recommended math video learning materials from the Living Math Forum Yahoo group.
Mathematics Goes to the Movies: titles and short descriptions of over 500 movies and TV episodes that contain mathematics. (Thanks, Sue, for alerting me to this site!)
Math in the Movies: more favorites
A few movie titles that are totally oriented around math and may be worth purchasing to add to your own math library:
And, of course, any of the Cyberchase episodes. (My kids have learned an incredible amount of math from watching this PBS series. You can also play on-line games and see some excerpts at the PBS kids website.)
Lastly, on YouTube you can see Norton Juster's The Dot and the Line... Enjoy! :)