As we enter the last part of the year and students tend to lose focus, sometimes we need a break from the day to day grind of the math concepts and learn about some of the history of mathematics. An engaging way to bring some history of mathematics alive is through a movie. However, some movies can be boring and uninspiring, and others might be over students’ heads. Thus, I found a fantastic movie that students find very interesting.
The movie (on DVD) is "Einstein's Big Idea" and it is based on the book, E=mc2 by David Bodanis.
The movie is a documentary, but it incorporates interviews with scientists and historians and integrates actors reconstructing historical events in a very entertaining and informative way.
Most students have heard of E=mc2 and Einstein, but rarely they do truly understand what the equation means, how it has been applied, and what it meant to the scientific community. In addition, the movie reveals stories of Einstein and other famous mathematics that students will enjoy learning about. The downside to the movie is that it is 112 minutes and requires 2 class period to view.
After showing the movie, I have my students visit a corresponding web site and then write a reflection paper about the film.
Here is a link to the movie on amazon: http://www.amazon.com/NOVA-Einsteins-Idea-John-Lithgow/dp/B000BKDO6...
Here is a link to the corresponding web page: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/einstein/