So in Internet terms, this page is ancient, circa 2003. That being said, much of the technical advice is out-dated, but the general arch of the lesson is still sound, and the spirit lives on in an annual competition I run--the Phylm Prize. Here's a link to this year's competition:

Back to parent site:
Ever watch a movie where you couldn't help but exclaim "No way! That could never really happen"? Perhaps you don't buy the lone gunman theory and are just itching to analyze the Zapruder film. Either way, you have taken the first step towards a line of questioning that if followed carefully could easily count as "doing science." Today with the aid of digital media tools, we can take that movie--stop it, turn it around, interrogate it for data. Using what we have learned from the physical sciences, we can frame and answer questions about the movement of bodies and the forces required for these motions. Most of what we need to answer these questions is right there on the screen. We just need to stop and look. This site spells out step-by-step an instructional unit for doing just that. What makes this unit special, however, is that instead of just gathering data and finding answers to your questions, you'll go on to share your findings--presenting your conclusions along with the original footage in a manner something like that of Pop-UP-Video or a DVD special feature commentary (e.g., the students' commentary is overlaid atop the original footage).

Science, more than simply a body of knowledge, is a dynamic self-correcting process that seeks to understand and explain the world in which we live. It is a process with rich intrinsic rewards, and at its height it requires of us a great deal of rigorous thought, questioning, hard work, risk taking, and yes--creativity. Too often the full breadth of these facts is obscured by the traditional restraints placed upon instructors and students. It doesn't have to be that way. This unit tries to get at the process of science while allowing as much freedom for students as possible.

This site is setup as a "handbook" for phylm production. Phylm Production provides an overview, while Planning, Production, and Post each contain step-by-step instructions on making a short phylm--including animated tutorials and Flash templates for download. A static-printer-friendly overview of this information is available in Adobe's PDF file format.
  • To download a short Phylm Lesson Plan Overview, from a paper I presented at the 127th Annual National meeting of the American Association of Physics Teachers, click here (pdf).
To navigate the site, simply use the menu bar at the top of the page, or you may choose to make use of the Google™ Site Search below. Either way, enjoy.

Also please note that 2 pages out of the 17 were never completed (i.e., Planning 4 & 7). The entire project, however, is described in the pdf overview above, and external links are provided from these pages to cover the missing content.

David A. Colarusso
David A. Colarusso
Physics & Astronomy Teacher
Lexington High School
251 Waltham Rd.
Lexington, MA 02421


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Last updated December 23, 2006
© David Colarusso