The Human brain seeks patterns in everything. This is why we see dinosaurs in clouds, faces everywhere, and even religious icons on irregularly burnt pieces of bread. Our minds seek patterns in color, number, sound, figures, and even events. At the 2009 World Science Festival, Bobby McFerrin demonstrates exactly this. He uses an unsuspecting audience to prove that the pattern seeking brain can produce the Pentatonic scale, which is defined as a scale of five notes per octave. Enjoy.
As far as educational video makers go, this team of teachers from Hawaii are the best. Amy Burvall and Herb Mahelona became a team four years ago when Burvall was trying to find a way to make her classes more interesting and a light bulb went off. She changed the lyrics to a popular song on the radio, enlisted Mahelona, and teachers everywhere rejoiced.
They have created numerous videos, all complete with sets, props, costumes, and wonderful singing by Burvall. And just in case you were wondering, the average time it takes the pair to create these videos is three months.
WARNING: This song will echo in your head ALL DAY!!!
The French Revolution by The History Teachers
If you really want to see an example of Hollywood completely trashing an excellent book, read I am Legend by Richard Matheson. This small, 125 page book is probably one of the most frightening books I have ever read. Written in 1954, I am Legend, helped give birth to the zombie genre by introducing readers to the idea of a worldwide disease that, instead of killing, alters the populace into something grisly and leaves them in to a supposed fate worse than death.
The premise is well known; last man on Earth defends his homestead and person from hordes of vampiric creatures. The hero of the story is Robert Neville, whose character is a far cry from the strong, smart, determined scientist played by Will Smith in the 2007 movie. Neville is immune to the disease, however he is cowardly, depressed, and a drunk. During the day, as the hordes sleep and hide from the sun, Neville repairs his defenses, searches for supplies, and might kill a vamp or two. But at night, he hides in his bathtub, drinks whiskey, and contemplates ending his stand and opening the door to his besiegers.
So what makes this so scary? Well, unlike the movies, which did a total injustice to the book, as well as cut short the fear factor, the vampires are sentient. That’s right, they know him. They sit outside of his house and call to him by name. The female vamps tease him by exposing their bodies and offering him sex if he comes outside. His carpool buddy, Ben Cortman, talks to him and insults his cowardice. They tell him over and over that it is a matter of time before his death. Eek! is an understatement here.
Finally, Neville decides to do some research and figures out the nature of the disease and why he is immune. As he is figuring all this out, he finds and captures an uninfected woman named Ruth. And although Neville is suspicious of her nonviolent attitude toward the infected, they grow close and “do the deed.”
As Neville’s research continues, he convinces Ruth to allow him to draw blood from her and realizes that she (GASP!!!) is actually infected. Ruth knocks him out and vanishes, leaving behind a note that warns him that society has continued through the epidemic and a new world order is emerging. Although still sensitive to sunlight and needing blood to survive, civilization is reforming and see him as a threat that she was sent to investigate. Neville is warned to run and hide as the new authority are coming for him.
Of course, he stays put and is captured. Neville is taken to a prison. He learns that the new society is scared of him. He is the new, ultimate predator, the last living remnant of the old world able to function in the sun. After being told he is to be publicly executed, Ruth visits him and reveals that she is actually an important member of the new society. She tells him she was going to help him escape, but it is too late for that. She gives him a pill that would “make it easier.” Neville goes to his prison window and sees the crowd gathering for his execution. He sees the fear in their eyes and accepts his fate, laughing at the irony that he is actually the monster under the bed.
“Robert Neville looked out over the new people of the earth. He knew he did not belong to them; he knew that, like the vampires, he was anathema and black terror to be destroyed. And, abruptly, the concept came, amusing to him even in his pain. … Full circle. A new terror born in death, a new superstition entering the unassailable fortress of forever.
I am legend.” -Chapter 21
Neville takes the pills. The legend dies. How frightening. This book takes the hero beyond worst case scenario. There is no happy ending. No puppies and rainbows. No happy, fuzzy feelings. Just “what if” thoughts that echo in the reader’s mind when the sun goes down.
Wait. What? Monty Python is educational. No way, you say. But it’s true. Aside from the drab British humor and historical mocking, Monty Python has used their immense senses of humor to bring the world this gem of astronomical education. This three minute video is perfect for high school Science classes, although you may have to explain what the word “bugger” means.
Monty Python – The Galaxy Song
Fun fact: In 2010, SPACEX, a commercial space company launched a wheel of cheese into low orbit and brought it back down again in honor of Monty Python.
Most of us older folks remember the Animaniacs as a funny after school cartoon packed with double entendres and silly antics from three adorable characters of ambiguous species. Luckily for teachers, many of the skits were educational musical numbers set to catchy tunes.
The Animaniacs covered topics from Science, Geography, History, and English. But you must be careful in use of Animaniacs material, it has very high potential for causing earworms, that’s the technical term for a song playing in your head.
The 50 State Capital song is perfect for both primary and secondary education classes. The funniest part though, is when students take tests, you can see them mouthing the song to find the answer they are looking for.
The Animaniacs – All 50 States and Their Capitals.
And of course, here are the lyrics. Enjoy.
And now Wacko Warner with the fifty US States and their Capitals,
Baton Rouge Louisianna, Indianapolis Indiana,
and Columbus is the capital of O-hi-o.
There’s Montgomery Alabama,
south of Helena Montana
then there’s Denver Colorado,
and Boise Idaho.
Texas has Austin
then we go north,
to Massachusetts Boston
and Albany New York.
and Washington D.C.,
Sante Fe New Mexico and Nashville Tennessee.
Elvis used to hang out there a lot, you know.
Trenton’s in New Jersey north of Jefferson Missouri,
You got Richmond in Virginia,
South Dakota has Pierre,
Harrisburg’s in Pennsylvania and Augusta’s up in Maine,
and here is Providence Rhode Island next to Dover Deleware.
Concord, New Hampshire, just a quick jaunte,
to Montpelier, which is up in Vermont,
Hartford’s in Connecticut so pretty in the fall,
and Kansas has Topeka
Minnesota has St. Paul.
Juneau’s in Alaska and there’s Lincoln in Nebraska
and it’s Raleigh out in North Carolina, and then,
there’s Madison Wisconsin and Olympia in Washington,
and Lansing Michigan.
Here’s Honolulu, Hawaii’s a joy
and Springfield Illinois,
South Carolina with Columbia down the Way,
and Annapolis in Maryland on Chesapeake Bay,
They have wonderful clam chowder.
Cheyenne is in Wyoming and perhaps you make your home in
Salt Lake City out in Utah where the buffalo roam.
Atlanta’s down in Georgia and there’s Bismark North Dakota,
and you can live in Frankfurt in your own Kentucky home.
Sa-lem, in Oregon, from there we join,
Little Rock in Arkansas,
Iowa’s got Des Moines
Oklahoma and it’s City,
Charleston West Virginia
and Nevada Carson City.
That’s all the capitals, there are!
We Didn’t Start the Fire by Billy Joel
When I was in grad school, it was a running joke that you could not pass the exit exam unless you could lecture for 15 minutes on any line in this song. Being familiar with the song is a great way for students to be able to touch upon the major historical points of 1945-1989 in both American and World History, and honestly the catchy tune doesn’t hurt either. The video was first created by Scott Allsop, who currently teaches at an international school in Egypt. From then on, this gem became one of the most shown (and remade) modern history educational videos.
For item by item explanations:
For a lesson plan accompaniment: