7 Mythbusters Clips for Science Teachers

If you ever put the Discovery channel on, the chances are that very soon you’ll encounter an episode of Mythbusters. It’s one of my favourite shows on TV at the moment. OK, the kid in me never tires of watching large explosions, but there is some very good science going on too. They put movie myths, old wives tales, urban legends, thought experiments and internet viral videos to the test. If you’ve ever wanted to know if you can find a needle in a haystack, or teach an old dog new tricks then this is the show for you.

I’m still amazed when I meet science teachers who have never heard of the Mythbusters. In every situation the team use proper scientific method to break down each myth and put it to the test. Often they go one step further on busted myths to see if they can replicate the intended outcome of the myth (which is usually where the explosions happen!)

There are plenty of clips from the shows up on YouTube that are perfect for use in Science lessons to illustrate concepts or to demonstrate thought experiments. Here are a few of my favourites:

Bullet Drop

A classic thought experiment. If you fire a bullet from a gun, and at the same time drop a bullet straight down from the same height, will they hit the ground at the same time. Physics says yes, but most peoples common sense says no. The Mythbusters put it to the test.

Throwing an object from a moving car

If you have a car travelling at 60mph, and you throw an object out the back at 60mph, will the two velocities cancel each other out and the object appear to an observer to fall straight down?

Can you really build a lead balloon?

If you do it right, can you build a balloon out of lead that can actually float?

Thermite and Ice

If you combine the thermite reaction with a lump of ice, it turns into something a lot more explosive!

Alkali Metals (Debunking the Brainiac video)

This is the Mythbusters take on the famous (and sadly faked) Brainiac video of alkali metals in a bathtub (Jump to about 5 mins in).

Water on a chip pan fire

An amazing video which demonstrates exactly why you don’t pour water onto a chip pan fire. Scary.

Can you cut down a tree with a minigun?

OK, not a lot of science here (although could demonstrate friction) – but I just love this clip of Kari cutting down a tree with a minigun.

There are loads of other great examples out there. If you haven’t seen the Mythbusters before, go check them out!

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Author: Danny Nicholson

Danny is an author, Science teacher, ICT Consultant, PGCE lecturer and computing / interactive whiteboard trainer. He has delivered training courses across the UK, in Europe, and in Canada. Please get in touch with your training requests.

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