The Digital Teacher’s Challenge

To all y’all digitally-literate teachers:

Let’s say you’re planning a lesson on exponents at your usual spot at your usual time (which is to say, ten hours before showtime) and you realize you really want to show this one movie, agh, what the hell’s it called, it’s the one IBM made back in the ’80s that zooms back from a picnicking couple all the way into space, showing you the effect of exponential increase.

What’s your solution?


  1. To all y’all digitally-literate intensely-concerned teachers out there, don’t fret on my account. This teaser’s coming out of my recent past, where it’s already been resolved.
  2. Any solutions which lean heavily on the resources of your colleagues or your library (eg. “I think someone’s got it somewhere on VHS … “) won’t, um, exactly stir our confidence.

Extra Credit: Extract the Video

[updated] On account of your district’s low bandwidth, you need to extract the video to your hard drive. How?

I'm Dan and this is my blog. I'm a former high school math teacher and current head of teaching at Desmos. He / him. More here.


  1. I would “google” the following combination: IBM 80s picnic space. From there, I would scan the first page and see the following “IBM: Powers Of Ten (amazing 9 minute science video) – videosift.comA fantastic short film by Charles and Ray Eames for IBM: ‘dealing with the … arena of both continuity and change, of everyday picnics and cosmic mystery. … “, so I’d click on that link ( to make sure. While there, I’d see from the description (because the video is apparently not working at school) that it indeed says “The 1977 film travels from an aerial view of a man in a Chicago park to the outer limits of the universe directly above him and back down into the microscopic world contained in the man’s hand. ” I’m sure there’s a much more direct route we will all be educated with soon, but that’s how I’d do it right now, not knowing any better way. :)

  2. well, I’m so digitally-impaired that I’d just walk over to my bookshelf and pull down the print copy by Philip & Phylis Morrison (based on the Eames’ film). ISBN 0716760088

  3. I’d do a couple of Google searches, get distracted by the ‘Power of ten’ websit ( before realising how far behind I was with all the things I was supposed to have done today, and noticing your first caveat, go back to them, looking forward to finding out what the movie actually was!

  4. So funny. I was just cleaning up my “My Documents” folder about two weeks ago and I deleted this. I must have had it there for years, but figured that I always could just get it off from YouTube now.

  5. You might do a search using the keywords “ibm picnic zoom”. If you do this on google you quickly find out the name of the film (PoT). First hit in fact.

    Then you’d quickly find out that the film is hoarded under All Right Reserved copyright. Since you realize that it is the ethical right of humanity to share culture you will go to a site like the Pirate Bay, find the torrent file and proceed to download it. Currently, it has 3 seeders.

    And of course, if you appreciate the film and find it useful (aka “a keeper”) you might purchase a copy if you have the funds to do so.

    I don’t understand the extra credit question. What do you mean “extract the video to your hard drive”?

  6. Good finds, everyone.

    Rich, better believe I showed the Simpsons parody. That kind of extension builds my stock with these kids. I played that one and one from Men in Black which I can’t seem to raise at the moment.

  7. Because I came here to find the link to the Simpson’s (New link), I wanted to provide the other video I discovered this afternoon (via TreeHugger).

    It’s Morgan Freeman doing a Cosmic Voyage. Same general idea, better voice. I think I like this one better than the original, but the original has some sort of sentimental value. Here’s the link so others can decide.