Tag Archives: Science

Videos for the Classroom: What the Ancient Greeks Did for Us

Since I work double-duty as a social studies AND science teacher, I’m always looking for ways to combine the two…sometimes out of piquing interest, often out of laziness.

Today’s offering is just plain fun.

I’ve seen various episodes of this BBC series over the years.  What the Ancients Did for Us is a 2005 series on  BBC that detailed the accomplishments of various ancient societies and their impact on our lives today.  It was derived from earlier shows that looked at contributions from earlier periods of British history, such as the Tudor period, the Stuart era or the Industrial Revolution.

Yet this is no ordinary history documentary.  Ancients was produced in conjunction with the Open University, the largest British university by student enrollment and a pioneer in distance learning.  As such, it not only provides information on the civilization (names, dates, and whatnot) but also practical demonstrations of the kind of technology used at that time period–often with amazing results.

I’ve attached the episode on the Ancient Greeks, as this is the next unit we will be studying in my class.  I’ve already previewed the film to a few students of mine, and they all saw the experiments (from Archimedes’ screw to Hero’s steam Jet engine) as great ideas for science fair projects.  One even wanted to try out Archimedes’ famed “Death Ray” – the mirrored weapon used to angle the sun’s thermal energy towards wooden galleys with devastating results.

I’m not sure that will fly with the principal (nor the fire chief) but the series is a great connection between science and history.

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Videos for the (VERY mature) classroom: Drunk History featuring Nikola Tesla

CollegeHumor’s Drunk History series is now part of HBO Comedy’s Funny or Die troupe.  Nikola Tesla is featured, starring John C. Reilly, with Crispin Glover as Thomas Edison.  How electric! 

Okay, I really deserve a beating for such a lame last line.

Maybe to make amends, I shold make a Drunk History of my own.  Sometime in the near future, I’ll be doing a Drunk History of (surprise, surprise) the Cuban Revolution.  Fidel would be proud.  Anyone who wants to help, let me know. 

No, you can’t be the drunk…I’ll take care of that.

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This Day in History 3/14: Albert Einstein

Today I’ll highlight a moment in history from March 14.  This doesn’t happen very often so don’t get used to it.

A big old Happy Birthday goes to Albert Einstein, born today in Ulm, Germany in 1879.  The great German physicist who obliterated previous notions of how we see time, space and energy has been lauded by so many people in so many ways that for me to continue doing this would be a waste of space.  The guy was the wiley-haired usher that led us to our seats for the Modern Age.

If students need a good biography similar to the assignment in my previous post, then Einstein would be a fantastic pick.  Not only was he a brilliant scientist, but also a prescient thinker on spirituality, pacifism, and philosophy.  Plus, he has a face that’s custom-made for a posterboard.

Happy Birthday, Herr Professor.

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