If you want to show students that learning STEM can be interesting and fun, use movies as an educational tool.
Nowadays you can find movies on nearly every topic, so showing insightful STEM films can open students’ eyes and encourage further discussion. Both teachers and parents can help students understand and analyze what they’ve seen, and movies can nurture students’ curiosity.
In this article, you can find a list of movies that help students foster interest in learning robotics. For every movie, we suggest a list of topics for discussion, in-class activities, home assignments, and MOOCs to start a conversation and reinforce topics.
Why we created this list? 52% of Americans believe people don’t pursue STEM degrees because of the difficulty of the subjects.
While most modern students find it difficult and boring to learn exact sciences, the modern labor market needs more STEM professionals. As a result, it’s important for teachers and parents to implement new science and engineering activities that can hook students into learning about a topic.
Use the following five movies to enrich classes & drive assignments:
1. Ex Machina (2014)
Main educational topic: The Rise of AI in the Modern World
Recommended age: 16+
A young programmer Caleb Smith wins the contest for a one-week visit to the home of the CEO, Nathan Bateman. Nathan has created a humanoid robot AVA with AI, and he invites Caleb to take part in a ground-breaking experiment in synthetic intelligence by testing AVA’s human qualities.
Discussion questions: Will robots ever control the world? Will robots ever replace the need for humans to work? What three adjectives best describe robotics AI? Do robots pose a threat to society?
In-class activities: Discussion club ‘Benefits & Risks of Artificial Intelligence’
- Find the latest news on AI creation
- Write down the list of fields in which AI methods are implemented
- Write a compare and contrast essay ‘The History and Future of Robotics AI: Pros and Cons of Working in the Field’
Online courses: Intro to Artificial Intelligence
2. A.I.: Artificial Intelligence (2001)
Main educational topic: The Future of Human-Like Robots
Recommended age: 13+
One day Henry and Monica Swintons have to place their son in suspended animation, so they decide to abandon “David”, a highly-advanced robotic boy. The human mother can’t love David the way she loves her biological son, and David understands it. He hopes to become a real boy so that he can win back his mother’s love, so he goes on a long journey hoping to make his dreams come true.
Discussion questions: What is intelligence and what is the difference of human intelligence versus computer intelligence? Can robots fully replace humans? Do you think robots will ever have emotions or be able to love?
In-class activities: Create an infographic(s) comparing and contrasting robots, clones, and droids.
- Write an essay ‘can AI replace humans?’
- Create a report on the latest AI robots that look and act like humans
Online courses: Minds and Machines
3. Spare Parts (2015)
Main educational topic: The Growth of Students’ Interest in Robotics
Recommended age: 13+
A group of four undocumented Hispanic immigrant teenagers forms an engineering club where they meet Cameron, a substitute teacher. Students don’t have experience or money, but they live a dream and put much effort into building a remote-controlled submarine for the UCSB robotics competition.
Discussion questions: If you had a robot, what would you like it to do? What would happen if you programmed a robot to hate?
- Discuss the main parts of a robot
- Divide students into groups to brainstorm ‘What functions can robots perform in society’
- Describe the process of creating a robot in details
- Join an engineering club to create a robot and present it as your half-semester project
Online courses: Begin Robotics
4. Chappie (2015)
Main educational topic: Human brain vs. Robotic Brain
Recommended age: 17+
In the nearest future, automated robots comprise the law enforcement. A worker steals one police droid, Chappie, to give it a new programming. He is a unique robot with a mind of his own. Starting off like a human child, Chappie is ‘raised’ under the opposing parentage of a band of criminal misfits and his maker, yet foraging for his own identity in the harsh world, which soon targets him for his uniqueness. He becomes the first robot with the ability to think and feel for himself.
Discussion questions: If a computer had real intelligence, should it be given the same rights and responsibilities as people? Would it be right to ever turn it off?
In-class activities: Divide students into teams to debate on the topic ‘Should people use robots to reduce the high rating of criminality’?
Homework: Write an opinion essay ‘Is it dangerous to trust robots’
Online courses: Artificial Intelligence for Robotics
5. I, Robot (2004)
Main educational topic: AI and Humankind
Recommended age: 13+
In 2035, robots are common assistants and workers. Chicago homicide detective Del Spooner doesn’t trust robots. One day he receives a call from the United States Robotics (USR) about a recent death of renowned robot scientist Dr. Alfred J. Laning, and Spooner begins his investigation. Little does he know that it would lead to uncovering a larger threat to humanity.
Discussion questions: What are the main differences between human intelligence and AI? What are some risks or potential dangers of AI? Do you think Artificial Intelligence also means that computers could become conscious or self-aware? Why/why not?
In-class activities: Discussion club ‘Are Robots and Artificial Intelligence Real-Life Threats to Humans and Their Jobs?’
Homework: Prepare a speech “Artificial & Machine Intelligence: Future Fact, or Fantasy?”
Online courses: Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Living in the digital era, modern students are interested in robotics and there are many exciting ways to encourage them to learn more about this STEM field. Watching insightful movies about robotics is a funny way to interest students in practicing robotics knowledge.
While movies can give insights on learning more about robotics AI, there are many other ways to dig into robotics knowledge:
The List of Books, Articles, and Videos about Robotics:
- Cambrian Intelligence: The Early History of the New AI (Rodney A. Brooks, 1999)
- Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future (Martin Ford, 2015)
- The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies (Erik Brynjolfsson & Andrew McAfee, 2016)
- Human-Robot Interaction in Social Robotics (Takayuki Kanda & Hiroshi Ishiguro, 2012)
- I, Robot (Isaac Asimov, 2004)
- Super-Toys Last All Summer Long (Brian W. Aldiss, 1969)
- The Machine Question: Critical Perspectives on AI, Robots, and Ethics (David J. Gunkel, 2012)
- Introduction to Artificial Intelligence and Expert Systems (Dan W. Patterson, 1990)
- The Future of Work: Robots, AI, and Automation (Darrell M. West, 2018)
- The Future of Leadership: Rise of Automation, Robotics and Artificial Intelligence (Brigette Tasha Hyacinth, 2017)
- Humans Need Not Apply: A Guide to Wealth and Work in the Age of Artificial Intelligence (Jerry Kaplan, 2015)
- A Short Introduction to Robotics and AI (David Vernon, 2007)
- Artificial Intelligence in Home Robots – Current and Future Use-Cases (Raghav Bharadwaj, 2018)
- Your Next T-Shirt Will Be Made by a Robot (Erico Guizzo, 2018)
- Artificial intelligence, Robots and a Human Touch (Deborah O’Neill, 2018)
- Robot managers: the future of work or a step too far? (Josephine Moulds, 2018)
- More than 70% of US Fears Robots Taking Over our Lives (Olivia Solon, 2017)
- Artificial Intelligence And Robotics Will Lead To More Jobs, If We Do It Right (Tim Johnson, 2018)
- The Evolution Of AI And Robotics Will Be Amazing (And Painful) (Avi Reichental, 2017)
- What Happens When Our Computers Get Smarter than We Are? (TED, 2015)
- Meet the Robots for Humanity (TEDx, 2013)
- Can We Build AI without Losing Control over It? (TED, 2016)
- Machine Intelligence Makes Human Morals More Important (TED, 2016)
- Robots that “Show Emotion” (TED, 2009)
- Tonight Showbotics: Jimmy Meets Sophia the Human-Like Robot (2017)
- Robots Sophia and Han Debate The Future Of Humanity (2017)
- Robotics, AI, & The Future of Work (2017)
- How AI is Dangerous by Elon Musk (2017)