Using Interstellar in Physics Lessons

Interstellar is a 2014 epic science fiction action film that features a crew of astronauts who travel through a wormhole in search of a new home for humanity. An article in the American Journal of Physics has urged that Interstellar should be shown in physics lessons to entertain and inspire some of the astronauts of the future. Great idea!

We’ve been through the physics and compiled a worksheet that should guide your students through this awe-inspiring film.

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The Director, Christopher Nolan, was very keen to ensure that the science behind the film was as scientifically accurate as the story would allow, and he discusses this in the interview below.

The film was carefully monitored in production by Executive Producer Kip Thorne; a physicist known for his contributions in gravitational physics and astrophysics.

The actual physics is mind-boggling and beyond the scope of the average high school syllabus. However, Guzled has taken some time to review all current specifications and have found it to tie in nicely with:

AQA A Level Physics:
  • Optional Topic 3.9 Astrophysics (Black Holes)
  • Optional Topic 3.12 Turning Points in Physics (Special Relativity)
IB Physics: Option A (Relativity)
SQA
  • Higher Physics: Special Relativity
  • Advanced Higher Physics: General Relativity

We believe this is a brilliant “fun” lesson for a class and the worksheet below will help focus and challenge your students on the astrophysics in the film. This would also fit in perfectly with a teacher working on including FLIP learning into their classroom.

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Using Interstellar in Physics Lessons

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I have written a worksheet that accompanies Interstellar that will test students on controversial physics theories and encourage them to study outside the scope of the curriculum.
These are invaluable skills.

In fact, if you DON’T let them watch Interstellar –
you are a bad physics teacher!Sally Weatherly

Do you know of any other great (educational) films to watch in Physics Class?

Share your idea in the comments below

About the Author

Sally

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Sally is the Guzled founder and, more importantly, a part-time physics teacher at Mary Erskine School in Edinburgh. She led a large and vibrant department for 7 years, after training to teach in London. She is a Trustee for Dynamic Earth, an IoP Teacher Network Co-ordinator, a Practical Advisor for AQA and guest lecturer for Stirling University.

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