My ‘Math In Movies and TV’ video montage

Sometimes I get so wrapped up in trying to get TFA to improve that this blog might get a bit negative.  I forget that as one of the best math teachers in the country, I could sometimes use this as a forum to share some of my best math lessons.

What got me to think of doing this was when I realized that two of the best CM bloggers on this site ‘Mathinaz‘ and ‘Drinking The Kool Aid‘ are secondary math teachers like me.  I hope they, and all the other math teachers out there (would be good for elementary too),  get a chance to use this, which took me nearly fifteen years to get to this state.

I know that there’s not a lot of free time for ‘fun stuff’ with all the high stakes tests and all.  Still, I always find a day or two for my ‘Math In Movies and TV’ video.  This is a collection of clips from movies and TV shows (mostly The Simpsons) that get kids to think about math.  Of course they don’t get to just watch the clips and laugh.  There are a series of questions to answer about the clips.  Another way to use it is to pause after each clip and have the students discuss the mathematical significance of what they just watched.

There are two files to download.

First File

Second File

I also have it on DVD, but don’t know the best way to share the big disk image file.  If anyone knows the best way to share a big file like that, let me know.

This is always the best day of the year.  You can be boring for a full month after doing this, and you’ll still be known as a teacher who made math fun.

Here are questions to go with the video:

Math in Movies and TV worksheet questions

1.  The Wizard Of Oz (1939)

a)  What is the Scarecrow’s conjecture?

b)  Prove that the conjecture must be false?

c)  Edit the conjecture so it is true.

2.  The Simpsons — $pringfield (Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Legalized Gambling) (1F08, 12/16/93)

a)  Did the other guy in the bathroom correct the conjecture?

3.  This Is Spinal Tap (1984)

a)  What is wrong with Nigel’s logic regarding the amp that ‘goes to 11’?

4.  The Office – Episode 4 (7/30/01)

a)  How can you get the chicken, the grain, and the fox over to the other side of the river safely?

5.  Die Hard With A Vengeance (1995) Given an unlimited water supply and an 5 gallon jug and a 3 gallon jug.  How can you get exactly 4 gallons of water into the 5 gallon jug?

6. The Da Vinci Code (2006)  What is the Fibonacci sequence.  Is there a way to calculate the 50th term of the sequence without first getting the first 49 terms?

7. 21 (2008) Is Ben’s reasoning correct?  Why isn’t just a 50% chance?  This is known as ‘The Monty Hall Problem.’

8.  Da Ali G Show (2003) What is 9999999999999999999999999999999999999 times


9.  The Simpsons – Colonel Homer (8F19, 3/26/92)

a)  What is a googol?

b)  What is a googolplex?

10.  The Simpsons — Homer At The Bat (8F13, 2/20/92) , Brother, Can You Spare Two Dimes? (8F23, 8/27/92)

a)  How many home runs should Homer really expect to hit?

b)  There are two references to percentages needing to be less than 100.  Are there any situations where it would make sense to talk about a number greater than 100 percent?

11.  The Simpsons — Bart Gets An F (7F03, 10/11/90)

a)  If potential for mischief varies inversely with proximity to the authority figure, as Martin says, and if when you are five feet from the authority figure, you can do 4 mischievous acts, how many mischievous acts can you do if you are twenty feet away?

12.  The Simpsons — Dead Putting Society (7F08, 11/15/90)

a)  What is larger, infinity or infinity plus one?

b)  What are some practical uses of Geometry?

13.  The Simpsons — Selma’s Choice (9F11, 1/23/93)

a)  Homer says the odds of getting sick on a Saturday are 1000 to one.  Do you think the odds are exactly 1/7 for each day, or is there more to it than that.  Explain.

14.  The Simpsons — Dog Of Death (8F17, 3/12/92)

a)  If the odds of winning the lottery are one in 380 million, and it is a typical ‘pick six out of six’ lottery game, how many numbers do they have to pick from?

b)  What is the number 100 represented in base 6?

c)  Is Homer correct in saying that his odds of winning are now 380 million to 50?

15.  The Simpsons — Marge In Chains (9F20, 5/6/93)

a)  Apu says the 40,000 digit of Pi is 1.  Is this accurate?

16.  The Simpsons – Bart’s Girlfriend ((2F04 11/6/94)  Name three jobs that don’t require any math and three jobs that do require math.

17.  The Simpsons – Marge vs. The Monorail (9F10 1/14/93)  Grampa Simpson says his car gets 40 rods to the hogshead.  These are real measuring units.  Convert this to miles per gallon.

18.  The Simpsons – Lemon of Troy (2F22 5/14/95)  What is 1995 in Roman numerals?

19.  The Simpsons – Who Shot Mr. Burns Part I (2F16 5/21/95) How many pounds is 1000 grams?

20. The Simpsons — Radioactive Man (2F17, 9/24/95) The slot car sign says the cars are 1/24 the size, 3/8 the fun.  What if the cars were 1/48 the size, what fraction of the fun would that be?  What if the cars were 1/12 the size?

21. The Simpsons — Treehouse of Horror VI (3F04, 10/30/95)  A four dimensional cube is called a hypercube.  Find out how many vertices, edges, and faces this shape has.

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6 Responses to My ‘Math In Movies and TV’ video montage

  1. Leah says:

    Thanks for sharing, this seems so cool! I’m hoping to be placed in middle school (math) and am not entirely familiar with the curriculum at that level.. do you think these videos would be appropriate for that age?

    • Gary Rubinstein says:

      Some are good for middle school. If they learn the Pythagorean Theorem, the first two are good. The riddle from ‘Die Hard 3’ is good for any grade level. There are also some things about percents in the Simpsons and some basic probability that can generate discussion, like Homer Simpson saying “What are the odds of getting sick on a Saturday? A thousand to one.” Hope you can get some use from these.

  2. Wess says:

    Haha! This is perfect!
    The Monty Hall problem threw me until I Wikipedia’d it. 🙂

    • Wess says:

      P.S. thanks for calling me a good blogger. Yours is fantastic, of course, and constantly challenges me.

  3. mathinaz says:

    I LOVE THIS. thanks for sharing!

  4. The files are no longer available. can you re-upload them – maybe to youtube?

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