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Cinema and Science

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Film teams up with science in the classroom

Teaching science is getting a facelift thanks to an EU-funded project. Linking film to scientific principles, the outcomes of the 'Cinema and science' (CISCI) project continue to stimulate the interest of young learners in subjects normally considered as boring.

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A massive initiative to encourage new scientists in their school years was launched through Europe's Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) Science and Society programme. Coordinated by the Vienna University of Technology, the CISCI project consisted of 10 institutions from 8 EU Member States and the United States. At the heart of the project's objectives was an undertaking to enhance students' understanding of science and to improve their attitude towards studying the subject. Teachers were also a target group, their role being effective communication of the new resource in the form of relevant film clips to explain an associated scientific principle. The aim was also to heighten awareness of gender bias in the science field. Media resources included around 160 movie excerpts which covered basic level from 10 years old to advanced – from 14 and above. These can be supplemented with multimedia containing animation, virtual reality worlds and interactive elements. The CISCI programme uses clips from recent blockbusters to films back in the 1920s and 1930s reinforced with small science documentaries. Films used include 'Enemy of the State' starring Will Smith, which focuses on real-time satellite communications. In a physics classroom context, satellite operations are then explored and the students get involved by conducting an experiment on how objects can be kept moving in a circle. At the end of the project, details on CISCI were available on many websites in six European languages. Educational methods developed in CISCI occupy a unique position and promise to supply more top-class scientists on a global basis as a result of being inspired at school.

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