January/February 2018 – Vol. 31 No. 2

NASA Names Most Realistic and Unrealistic Sci-Fi Films of All Time

Posted: Thursday, January 6th, 2011

by Alison Nastasi (Subscribe to Alison Nastasi’s posts)
Jan 3rd 2011, from Cinematical on Moviefone

Working through the year-end best/worst movie lists can be a feat of Olympic proportions, but there’s one list which is so damn cool you’ll definitely want to give it a whirl. NASA has compiled a list of the “least plausible science fiction movies ever made,” and they ranked the disastrous (in more ways than one) ‘2012’ as the most “absurd” sci-fi flick of all time.

You don’t have to be a science nerd to see why Roland Emmerich’s end of the world-meets Mayan calendar-meets everything explodes movie is worthy of inclusion, but Donald Yeomans—head of NASA’s Near-Earth Asteroid Rendezvous mission—explains: “The film makers took advantage of public worries about the so-called end of the world as apparently predicted by the Mayans of Central America, whose calendar ends on December 21, 2012.” Yeomans continued, explaining that the paranoia surrounding the movie’s concept has overwhelmed his organization. “The agency is getting so many questions from people terrified that the world is going to end in 2012 that we have had to put up a special website to challenge the myths. We have never had to do this before,” he said.

If you need more proof that these astro-badasses have impeccable taste, perhaps their “worst of” vote for box office bomb, ‘The Core,’ or the lava-crazy ‘Volcano’ will convince you. Michael Bay’s ‘Armageddon’ also made the blacklist — which may cause flux amongst some fans who dig its grand visuals and effects — but as far as being scientifically accurate, it doesn’t make the grade. It isn’t all doom and gloom though, as the organizations did praise several films for their realism. ‘Gattaca,’ the 1997 movie about liberal eugenics, topped the “best of” list, alongside ‘Jurassic Park’ and ‘Contact.’

Now that the scientists have spoken, it’s time for the movie herd to weigh in. In your opinion, which side of the coin do sci-fi classics like ‘Soylent Green’ or ‘2001’ fall on? Where does a movie like ‘Blade Runner’ hit or miss the science textbook? Leave us your most ludicrous or science-savvy votes in the comments section.

Link to NASA article about 2012 (courtesy of Robert Victor).

Worst Sci-Fi Movies

1. 2012 (2009)

2. The Core (2003)

3. Armageddon (1998)

4. Volcano (1997)

5. Chain Reaction (1996)

6. The 6th Day (2000)

7. What the #$*! Do We Know? (2004)

Most Realistic Films

1. Gattaca (1997)

2. Contact (1997)

3. Metropolis (1927)

4. The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)

5. Woman in the Moon (1929)

6. The Thing from Another World (1951)

7. Jurassic Park (1993)

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

4 Responses

  1. My primary surprise is that What the #$*! Do We Know? did not rate a higher position. We all expect fiction to have errors of science. However, the number seven worst movie was presented as fact! The movie deliberately misleads audiences. I had people I knew coming to me and asking about it, even urging me to see this wonderful science movie that was all claptrap.

  2. The NASA commentary challenging the myths in the film 2012 can be found at

    Hollywood pseudo-science aside, there will actually be many visually striking astronomical events occurring in 2012. Some of the best ones accessible to teachers and students will be four of the five naked-eye planets visible at dusk in late February-early March 2012, a brilliant pairing of Venus and Jupiter high in the western sky at dusk in March, an annular solar eclipse for parts of western North America in May, a transit of Venus across the face of the Sun on the afternoon of June 5, and a compact gathering of Mars, Saturn, and Spica at dusk in August 2012.

    An interesting school-year 2011-2012 sky observing project for students will be to follow Venus and Jupiter in the evening sky beginning in October 2011, when both can first be seen simultaneously above opposite horizons at dusk. Month by month they will draw closer together, until they will appear only three degrees apart on March 13, 2012.

    Jupiter will disappear below the western horizon by late in April 2012, but Venus will continue to be of interest, passing the Pleaides in early April, and showing interesting phases through telescopes and binoculars.

    We are planning to provide illustrations and details of these and other events in time for school year 2011-2012.

    Currently (January 2011), Jupiter and Uranus can still be observed together within the field of view of binoculars. Both planets appear near the Moon on the evenings of Jan. 9 and 10. A telescope shows the Galilean satellites of Jupiter, and the dark north equatorial belt, and higher power shows Uranus’ bluish disk.

    In the southeast to southern morning sky an hour before sunup in Jan. 2011, Mercury, Venus, and Saturn now form a nice lineup. A telescope shows the rings of Saturn now tipped about 10 degrees from edgewise and reveals Venus about half full. The waning crescent Moon will appear near Venus on the mornings of Jan. 29 and 30, but by then Mercury will rise in brighter twilight and be harder to observe.

    Illustrations of these events and a detailed finder chart to locate Uranus during January 2011 are available at http://www.pa.msu.edu/abrams/CSTADec-JanSkies/

  3. What happened to “The Day After Tomorrow” & “Deep Impact” (the movie, not the mission)? The first had some accurate science, although the timeline was a bit off. The second, I thought, had a very endearing plot, with a realistic ending.

  4. Soylent Green was the worst sci-fi movie I’ve ever seen!

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Accelerating into NGSS – A Statewide Rollout Series Now Accepting Registrations

Posted: Friday, January 19th, 2018

Are you feeling behind on the implementation of NGSS? Then Accelerating into NGSS – the Statewide Rollout event – is right for you!

If you have not experienced Phases 1-4 of the Statewide Rollout, or are feeling behind with the implementation of NGSS, the Accelerating Into NGSS Statewide Rollout will provide you with the greatest hits from Phases 1-4!

Accelerating Into NGSS Statewide Rollout is a two-day training geared toward grade K-12 academic coaches, administrators, curriculum leads, and teacher leaders. Check-in for the two-day rollout begins at 7:30 a.m., followed by a continental breakfast. Sessions run from 8:00 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. on Day One and from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Day Two.

Cost of training is $250 per attendee. Fee includes all materials, continental breakfast, and lunch on both days. It is recommended that districts send teams of four to six, which include at least one administrator. Payment can be made by check or credit card. If paying by check, registration is NOT complete until payment has been received. All payments must be received prior to the Rollout location date you are attending. Paying by credit card secures your seat at time of registration. No purchase orders accepted. No participant cancellation refunds.

For questions or more information, please contact Amy Kennedy at akennedy@sjcoe.net or (209) 468-9027.



MARCH 28-29, 2018
Host: San Mateo County Office of Education
Location: San Mateo County Office of Education, Redwood City

APRIL 10-11, 2018
Host: Orange County Office of Education
Location: Brandman University, Irvine

MAY 1-2, 2018
Host: Tulare County Office of Education
Location: Tulare County Office of Education, Visalia

MAY 3-4, 2018
Host: San Bernardino Superintendent of Schools
Location: West End Educational Service Center, Rancho Cucamonga

MAY 7-8, 2018
Host: Sacramento County Office of Education
Location: Sacramento County Office of Education Conference Center and David P. Meaney Education Center, Mather

JUNE 14-15, 2018
Host: Imperial County Office of Education
Location: Imperial Valley College, Imperial

Presented by the California Department of Education, California County Superintendents Educational Services Association/County Offices of Education, K-12 Alliance @WestEd, California Science Project, and the California Science Teachers Association.

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

The Teaching and Learning Collaborative, Reflections from an Administrator

Posted: Friday, January 19th, 2018

by Kelly Patchen

My name is Mrs. Kelly Patchen, and I am proud to be an elementary assistant principal working in the Tracy Unified School District (TUSD) at Louis Bohn and McKinley Elementary Schools. Each of the schools I support are Title I K-5 schools with about 450 students, a diverse student population, a high percentage of English Language Learners, and students living in poverty. We’re also lucky to be part of the CA NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative with the K-12 Alliance. Learn More…

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Written by NGSS Early Implementer

NGSS Early Implementer

In 2015 CSTA began to publish a series of articles written by teachers participating in the California NGSS k-8 Early Implementation Initiative. This article was written by an educator(s) participating in the initiative. CSTA thanks them for their contributions and for sharing their experience with the science teaching community.

2018 CSTA Conference Call for Proposals

Posted: Wednesday, January 17th, 2018

CSTA is pleased to announce that we are now accepting proposals for 90-minute workshops and three- and six-hour short courses for the 2018 California Science Education Conference. Workshops and short courses make up the bulk of the content and professional learning opportunities available at the conference. In recognition of their contribution, members who present a workshop or short course receive 50% off of their registration fees. Click for more information regarding proposals, or submit one today by following the links below.

Short Course Proposal

Workshop Proposal Learn More…

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

CSTA’s New Administrator Facebook Group Page

Posted: Monday, January 15th, 2018

by Holly Steele

The California Science Teachers Association’s mission is to promote high-quality science education, and one of the best practice’s we use to fulfill that mission is through the use of our Facebook group pages. CSTA hosts several closed and moderated Facebook group pages for specific grade levels, (Elementary, Middle, and High School), pages for district coaches and science education faculty, and the official CSTA Facebook page. These pages serve as an online resource for teachers and coaches to exchange teaching methods, materials, staying update on science events in California and asking questions. CSTA is happy to announce the creation of a 6th group page called, California Administrators Supporting Science. Learn More…

Written by Guest Contributor

From time to time CSTA receives contributions from guest contributors. The opinions and views expressed by these contributors are not necessarily those of CSTA. By publishing these articles CSTA does not make any endorsements or statements of support of the author or their contribution, either explicit or implicit. All links to outside sources are subject to CSTA’s Disclaimer Policy: http://www.classroomscience.org/disclaimer.

Find Your Reason to Engage

Posted: Monday, January 15th, 2018

by Jill Grace

I was recently reflecting on events in the news and remembered that several years ago, National Public Radio had a story about a man named Stéphane Hessel, a World War II French resistance fighter, Nazi concentration camp survivor, and contributor to the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The story focused on a book he had published, Time for Outrage (2010).

In it, Hessel makes the argument that the worst attitude is indifference:

“Who is in charge; who are the decision makers? It’s not always easy to discern. We’re not dealing with a small elite anymore, whose actions we can clearly identify. We are dealing with a vast, interdependent world that is interconnected in unprecedented ways. But there are unbearable things all around us. You have to look for them; search carefully. Open your eyes and you will see. This is what I tell young people: If you spend a little time searching, you will find your reasons to engage. The worst attitude is indifference. ‘There’s nothing I can do; I get by’ – adopting this mindset will deprive you of one of the fundamental qualities of being human: outrage.  Our capacity for protest is indispensable, as is our freedom to engage.”

His words make me take pause when I think of the status of science in the United States. A general “mistrust” of science is increasingly pervasive, as outlined in a New Yorker article from the summer of 2016. Learn More…

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Written by Jill Grace

Jill Grace

Jill Grace is a Regional Director for the K-12 Alliance and is President of CSTA.