Powers of 10/ The Story of Stuff

I don’t recall the details of when and where I first saw the film, “Powers of 10” by Charles and Ray Eames; I just remember that it blew my mind in a way that few things had or have. By today’s standards, the film is unremarkable in terms of special effects – any of this summer’s blockbusters easily surpasses what the Eames’ did. But what the Eames did is remarkable if you consider that they did it in 1977, before the advent of green screens, CGI, publicly available satellite photos or Movie Maker.

Powers of 10” is a nine minute film exploring the universe in a way that forces us to see the world with fresh eyes; it is a journey that begins at a picnic, takes us to the outer-known edges of space and then zooms in to the sub-atomic scale of quarks.

My second recommendation, leans to the left (warning for all those politically sensitive), but it is also very well done. Ironically, in an age replete with CGI, green screens and high tech animation, “The Story of Stuff” with Annie Leonard, relies on pretty basic line animation to get its point across. According to it’s own description. “The Story of Stuff exposes the connections between a huge number of environmental and social issues, and calls us together to create a more sustainable and just world.” Whether or not you agree with everything in this presentation, it is a great example of how to integrate animation to better explain a complicated message. Though it obviously simplifies much of the details for the sake of brevity, this film too, asks the viewer to reconsider the way they see the world.

While the two films have little in common in terms of contents, what they share is the effective use of their chosen media to convey complex and seldom seen slices of reality. They are great examples of the power of multimedia as an educational tool. Especially today, when more of our students have been born and nurtured in the digital age, it is critical that we seek out and find resources that teach in a way that makes it easier for them to learn about and understand the complex world in which they live.

Thank you for stopping by and I hope your summer is heating up!

© 2008 henry toromoreno

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About htwilson

born in brooklyn, raised in queens, massachusetts, that's where I be.
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