• 27 Oct
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    We’re big fans of Halloween at BrainPOP UK and indulging in Mary Shelley’s most famous novel “Frankenstein” is the perfect way to get in the spirit.


    Although Frankenstein was originally published in 1818 it’s still a huge part of popular culture with huge array of derivative works, adaptations and merchandise.

    Frankenstein’s monster has become one of the world’s most recognisable images and his name has become part of modern vernacular as well – “franken” has become a prefix in its own right like “Frankenfood”.

    In our Frankenstein topic Tim and Moby explore why Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein and the things that influenced her writing as well as how Frankenstein has in turn influenced the science-fiction genre.

    As well as covering the key parts of the story the movie also explains why Frankenstein is considered a Romantic novel and why the Romantics were rebelling against the Enlightenment movement. Plus you’ll discover how the novel’s themes are still relevant in modern society.

    FrankensteinThe activities give students the opportunity to write their own spooktacular ghost story as well as activities covering the details of the novel.

    In the FYI students can learn about adaptations of Shelley’s novel, why Shelley chose “Frankenstein: The Modern Prometheus” as the book’s full title, and other famous epistolary novels (and what an epistolary novel is!) and more.

    And if that’s not enough you can channel your inner Dr. Frankenstein and create your own monster and get to grips with different body systems and how they work together in the BrainPOP game Guts and Bolts.

    Screenshot of Guts and Bolts

    Frankenstein and his monster clearly capture students’ imaginations in our lastest badge competition entries Frankenstein’s monster was by far the most popular subject and one of them was chosen as one of our winners; they might be our coolest badges yet!


    And if that’s still not enough Frankenstein for you then download, print, and cutout our Mobyified Frankenstein’s Monster mask ready for Halloween!

    FrankenMoby mask

    Download, print off and cut out!

    Trick or treat?

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  • 21 Oct
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    It’s finally here you guys! The future is here! Or at least it’s the date that Marty McFly travels to in Back to the Future Part II and we’ve taken a look at what it got right and wrong.

    einstein moby

    Moby does a great Doc Brown impression

    Sadly, hover boards and flying cars aren’t ubiquitous and you won’t be zipping your way home through the air, but the movie did make some impressive predictions that have turned out to be true. So what made it and what didn’t?

    What Back to the Future Part II got right:

    While putting a fuel cell into a DeLorean won’t make it travel through time, fuel cells themselves are real and are a pretty cool technology. Check out how they work and the real world applications in our Fuel Cells topic.

    Fuel Cell Topic Screenshot

    And that’s not all, you may remember Doc Brown pouring rubbish into the engine when he needed fuel. Well, you can’t just throw banana skins into your car or pour old cola in but biofuels are a real thing and you can find out all about them in our Biofuels topic.

    Biofuels Topic Screenshot

    So, we might not all have hover boards but there is light at the end of the tunnel as Lexus have announced that they’ve made one! And they made a cool video to boot:

    But how does it work? Well, magnets! It sounds like a bad punchline but it’s actually true and the board uses magnetic levitation a bit like a maglev train. You can find out more about magnetism and how it works in our Magnetism topic.

    Magnetism Topic Screenshot

    Back to the future was right on the money with plentiful flat screen TVs and was ahead of the curve with flexible or “bendy” TVs which exist but aren’t yet a consumer staple. To learn about the technology behind flat screen TVs you can check out our Television topic.

    Television Topic Screenshot

    There are also robots and drones everywhere in Back to the Future and while that might not be a reality in everyday life yet we’re heading in that direction. Especially with companies like Amazon trying to create services like Amazon Prime Air where they would deliver your packages via drone! Learn about how robots work and what we use them for in our Robots topic.


    So what about what Back to the Future got wrong? You see CDs and laserdiscs all over the place in the movie rather than data storage devices like the USB drives you would mostly likely see on a day to day basis in the real world. While CDs still have uses, they’re nowhere near as common as they are in the movie. To find out how CDs work check out our Compact Disc/DVD topic and to learn about USB drives check out our Data Storage Devices topic.

    A major thing the movie missed was smartphones and it really stands out in a modern viewing of the movie. Nowadays you often see people phone in hand – even when they’re walking about but personal devices like that weren’t really featured. Instead all of the tech was shared rather than belonging to individuals.

    What it got wrong:

    But the biggest thing that the movie predicted wrong?

    Fax Machine Topic Screenshot

    That’s right, fax machines. They’re everywhere in the movie – even in the middle of the street but you hardly see or use them today. Even companies and organisations that still use faxes often use a digital version rather than an old fashioned fax machine. To find out how they work and what they were (are?) used for check out our Fax Machine topic.

    Futurology, or predicting social and technological advancements, is an important part of advancement and all it takes is a knowledge of science and a healthy imagination. Can you imagine what technology and the world will look like in another 30 years? Perhaps movies in 30 years we’ll be looking at movies like The Martian to see how close they got. Check out our blog post on the technology in The Martian to find out how realistic it is.




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  • 15 Oct
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    You may be able to fit all of the planets in the solar system between Earth and Mars but that won’t stop us from going there (but hopefully without leaving anyone behind!)

    Space Flight Screenshot

    There’s actually some pretty good science in Ridley Scott’s Sci Fi blockbuster The Martian and it’s pretty hard to watch it and not come out excited about science and the future of space travel. This is in good part due to NASA helping out with the movie which really adds to the realism.

    Chiwetel Ejiofor, who plays the NASA mission director in the film, described it best as “an amazing merging of fact and fiction. I was really excited about the ideas in the movie and actually going to Mars. Because there was so much research and detail, everything had this feel of being deeply realistic.”

    NASA is really trying to capitalise on the buzz and have made some great resources tied to Mars and The Martian that you can use to do the same in your classroom:

    But you don’t have to rely on NASA for educational resources related to The Martian; there’s some great BrainPOP UK topics you can use as well!

    Here are our top picks for topical Martian BrainPOP movies:


    Mars Topic Screenshot

    Obviously getting to grips with the red planet is top of the list. This movie covers everything we know about Mars and what we’ve done so far to find it out.

    Space Flight

    Space Flight Topic Screenshot

    Space flight is pretty key in The Martian – you’re not getting to Mars without it. This movie covers what it takes to get into space; how to get around once your up there; and, probably most importantly of all, how to get home. The realities of space travel, particularly long-haul space travel, can be hard to communicate and this topic helps to get across the massive distances and huge technological advances involved.

    Apollo Project

    Apollo Project Topic Screenshot

    The Martian is in many ways a love story about science, space exploration, and most of all NASA. Everyone part of the mission in the movie is deeply devoted to science and furthering human space exploration and the audiences feels incredibly invested as well. Check out BrainPOP’s Apollo Project movie to bask in NASA’s past successes and marvel at how we managed to get to the moon with computers less powerful than your smartphone. If we can go to the moon, just imagine what we could do with future technologies!

    International Space Station

    ISS Topic Screenshot

    It takes international help and cooperation to get Mark Watney home in the Martian and nothing is quite like the international cooperation involved in the building, maintenance and staffing of the International Space Station. Not only is it amazing as a feat of global cooperation there’s also some pretty amazing experiments happening up there and new technologies are being developed all the time because of it. In fact, what we’re learning from the ISS as the only microgravity lab is absolutely critical to future missions to Mars!

    Solar Energy

    Solar energy Screenshot

    Did we lose you? We know it’s not as exciting sounding as space flight but without his solar panels Watney really couldn’t have survived, plus we saw him dragging them around so much they might even count as a character (but not as much as the rover!) and as we don’t have a movie specifically on potatoes this one will just have to do.

    The Martian is a really fun film but possibly the best thing about it is coming out of the cinema feeling excited about science and about heading to Mars in the future. Perhaps there’s a future astronaut in your class waiting to be inspired.

    ISS Topic Screenshot

    And finally we’ll leave you with a NASA promotional video with Ridley Scott, the director of The Martian, talking about the NASA’s exploration plans for Mars in the future!


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