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Math in the Movies, Take One

The resource for this week reviews Sheldon Erickson's Movie Math Mania (2003). So what happens if you get the book, explore the six movies, get your students excited...and a big part of the year remains?

A good web-based resource that both complements and extends the book is a web site coordinated by Alla Blanca, a mathematics teacher at Cottage Grove High School in Cottage Grove, Oregon. Her mathematical interests include using manipulatives with secondary students, using movie and television clips to enhance mathematical learning, and fostering active discussion and sense-making in her classroom. I first saw her in action at a NCTM meeting when she kept the audience's attention by showing movie clips and talking about the related mathematics. Though set up originally as a companion to her conference presentation, Alla's web site is of great use to any mathematics teacher. For example, she discusses the mathematics found in 40 different movies...and all of her suggested classoom activities are student-tested.

A second helpful web site is A. G. Reinhold's web site, which tries to mention every movie that has ever included mathematics in some shape or form. However, by being extensive in content, the web site content often reaches into the level of college or university mathematics courses, such as analyses of the more sophisticated mathematical content in the movies Good Will Hunting or A Beautiful Mind, or The Proof.

A third helpful web site is Don Allen's web site, which adds an English twist to things and seems like a happy medium between the previous two sites. And yes, it does provide some good ideas for classroom use.