Science on the Simpsons

These clips from The Simpsons cartoons are intended for use by science teachers. It is recommended that you download and archive each clip that you would like to use. The clips are in MPEG (.m4v) format and should play on iTunes, Quicktime Player, and many other free video players like VLC. If you have trouble downloading them, try RIGHT-clicking on the link, then pick “save link as” in the pop-up menu. Otherwise try a different browser. The clips are a great way to liven up a slide presentation and should import into PowerPoint and Keynote. The posting and use of theses clips for educational purposes conforms with fair use of the copyright act. This website is a work in progress. If you have ideas for Science on the Simpsons clips, please email me a short description, the title of the episode, and the season number if possible.


Dan Burns

dburns@lgsuhsd.org

 
 

Principal Skinner uses conservation of angular momentum to save Ralph from falling grand pianos. For once Nelson is nearly speechless. (1:41)

 

Angular Momentum

Second Law of Thermodynamics

Lisa inadvertently breaks a Simpsons family rule with her perpetual motion machine. (0:39)

Coriolis Effect

Bart experiments with and researches the Coriolis effect after losing to Lisa in a stupid bathroom products race. One of the rare times that Lisa is wrong. Have your students do their own research by filling a sink at home, let it stand, then opening the drain. (3:59)

Newton’s First Law

Homer, playing Krusty the Clown for Milhouse’s birthday party, demonstrates a delayed version of Newton’s First Law. (0:11)

Newton’s Third Law

Bart performs a classic physics demonstration in an abandoned warehouse. It never works this well for me.(0:25)

Field Trip

The only science is during the bus braking procedure but any teacher who has taken their students on a field trip will enjoy it. I use it to help remind students to get their permission slips in on time. (2:59)

Zinc Film

A nostalgic look at 16 mm science films. A chemistry teacher could almost fool their students with this when teaching metals Vs non-metals. (1:16)

Twirl King Yo-yo

According to Halliday, Resnick, and Walker, yo-yos are a physics lab you can fit in your pocket. I show this clip while doing rotational dynamics problems and labs with yo-yos. (3:02)

Inelastic Collision

Homer saves the Simpson family home from the wrecking ball. Where did all the kinetic energy go? (0:11)

Bart’s Comet

This clip is rich in science and humor. It includes a bicycle light generator hampering Bart’s progress, Principal Skinner explains why “science has it all”, and a brief lesson on constellations. I show it when doing a lesson on constellations and learning the night sky. (3:59)

Time Traveling Newton

Professor Fink brings Sir Isaac into the present. Unfortunately the power goes out half way. I like to speculate in class on what Newton would have been like if he were alive today. Professor Fink finds out first hand. (0:15)

Metric System

Mr. Burns discovers that ignorance of the metric system can have a negative effect on his business. You will find yourself quoting him all year when a student makes a conversion error. “Sounded large when I ordered it” (1:01)

Centrifuge

Barney and Homer train to be astronauts in a centrifuge. Are they facing the right way? Which way should they face? (0:44)

Skateboard Jump

Bart demonstrates projectile motion and Newton’s First Law as he shows the Ogdenville newcomers “how the natives ride sky”. This clip is especially good at showing that Bart’s horizontal velocity remains constant during his jump over the cars. (0:41)

Frictionless Floor

Bart and Milhouse demonstrate what a world without friction might be like. (0:36)

Homer in Space

Homer launches into space showing the affects of large acceleration on facial features. Once in orbit Homer adapts quickly to apparent weightlessness as he cleans up errant potato chips. I prefer to call apparent weightlessness “normalforcelessness”. Look it up. (2:06)

Homer in 3D

Homer enters a strange world with an extra, third, dimension. When he throws a cone into the floor, he ruptures space-time and creates a black hole. Look for several mathematical in-jokes. (3:47)

Half-assed Job

The Simpsons hire a nanny named Mary Bobbins. Her signature song is perfect for playing while your students clean up their lab stations. I recommend just playing the audio or they will end up doing a quarter-assed job while they watch the video. (1:49)

Powers of Ten

The opening couch scene pays homage to Charles and Ray Eames’ classic film. This clip is not out yet on DVD so please excuse the low resolution of this downloaded clip. I had so many requests for it that I couldn’t wait. (2:06)

Subatomic Particle

Moe has to resort to his lifeline to answer the question “Which of the following is not a subatomic particle?” Unfortunately his lifeline is Homer. (1:49)

Conservation of Mass

Homer sneaks out on a Saturday claiming he needs to go to the nuclear plant to count the atoms. (0:12)

Bowling Ball and Feather

Cheif Wiggums is amazed to learn that a bowling ball and a feather will fall at the same rate in a vacuum. (0:18)

Metric System

Homer will only promise so much to get out of prison, following the metric system is not one of them. (0:14)

Magnets

Bart makes Principal Skinner dance with the help of some powerful magnets. It is doubtful that Bart is this powerful. (0:17)

Evolution

A quick review of the history of evolution delays Homer from his appointment with the family on the couch. (1:10)

Ball of Death

Homer discovers the hard way that a minimum speed is needed to complete a vertical circular path on the Ball of Death. (1:32)

Static Generator

Bart discovers how important electricity is on a snow day at home. His ingenuity to create his own is not sufficient to keep him entertained. (0:55)

Zero Gravity Ride

Homer and Bart rent the entire Zero - g plane. It starts out with a great demonstration of Newton’s Third Law but ends with several flagrant violations by Bart as he outmaneuvers Homer in apparent weightlessness (normalforcelessness). (1:06)

Curling

Marge must convert kinetic energy to potential energy to correct for Homer’s errant throw or they won’t make the Olympic team. (1:06)

Jesus Fish

Flanders explains to Lisa how he used natural selection to create his Jesus Fish. However, he will only allow it to go so far. (0:26)

Photon Pressure

Mr. Burns is knocked over by a stream of water and then a stream of photons. (0:19)

Complete Periodic Table

Lisa is jealous about the science facilities at the private school including the periodic table that has 250 elements. (0:29)

Salt Melts Ice

Homer rescues the snowbound school by inadvertently knocking over a salt silo. (1:06)

104% Body Fat

The nuclear plant uses Archimedes Principle to measure Homer’s body fat percentage. (0:30)

Freefall from the Treehouse

Bart falls from the treehouse. Time his fall to determine his impact velocity and height of the treehouse. He is lucky to have just broken his leg. (0:42)

Oily Floor

Homer’s attempt to injure himself at work fails but demonstrates Newton’s First Law quite nicely. (0:40)

Science Fair

Lisa’s project to show that Bart is dumber than a hamster backfires. A great clip to use to motivate students to work on a science fair project. (3:47)

Acid Rain

What do you get when you combine the exhaust from the steel mill, the smoke factory, and the day care center with rain? Acid rain of course. (1:01)

Black Hole 1

The new Springfield supercollider has an unintended result. Lisa has trouble convincing everyone that the black hole is dangerous. (3:10)

Black Hole 2

Lisa places the black hole in the basement but can’t keep the black hole from growing and engulfing Springfield. This clip solves the riddle of what is inside a black hole. (3:08)

Einstein’s Brain

Itchy replaces Scratchy’s brain with Einstein’s. Scratchy then invents the atomic bomb and time travel. The writing on the board is from a lecture by Einstein at Oxford in 1931 about the expansion of the universe (1:17)

Faster than Sound

Homer lands on Bart after crashing into Springfield’s tallest building while in his flying suit. He falls so fast his screams land after he does. (1:21)

Fat Test

Dr. Nick shows Homer and Bart how to test whether a food item has a lot of fat in it. He also shows his version of the food pyramid. (0:55)

Fork Lift Inertia

Bart demonstrates Newton’s First Law with the help of Milhouse and a forklift. The clip is also a good example of why safety belts are important. (0:21)

Heart Attack

The effects of stress on heart function are shown while Homer talks to Mr. Burns. Homer dies but returns for the promise of some ham. (1:27)

Journey to the Sun

After finding out they are on their way to the Sun instead of Mars, Homer and Bart bail out to face the vacuum of space instead. This would not happen to a human exposed to a vacuum. (1:12)

King Size Homer on a Scale

While trying to exceed 300 pounds so he can be on disability, Homer finds out that a scale only reads the normal force which is sometimes not equal to the weight. (2:38)

Pukahontas

Barney convincingly describes the tragedy of alcoholism in his winning entry to the Springfield Film Festival. (1:24)

The Simpsons Gene

Dr. Simpson explains to Lisa why she will not suffer the effects of the dreaded Simpsons gene that only affects males. (1:57)

Solar Eclipse

Leonard Nimoy enjoys a total eclipse of the Sun that temporarily halts the runaway Springfield monorail. “Solar energy, when will people learn?” (0:31)

Dino Sponge

Bart is disappointed by the expansion of his new toy. This is for chemistry teachers and their water absorbing polymer lab. (0:38)

Dipping Bird

Homer leaves the dipping bird in charge of the nuclear plant with predictable results. See  http://www.exploratorium.edu/snacks/dippingbird/  for how to use in class. (1:36)

Doppler Shift

Bart and Homer go so fast you can hear the Doppler Effect as they run by. This is the shortest clip on the website but may get the most use. (0:06)

The Fossil Fuel Four

Radioactive Man tries to stop the Fossil Fuel Four from destroying the nuclear plant. Which one doesn’t belong on this team of villains? (1:59)

Inverse Graph

Lisa uses a graph to explain the inverse relationship between happiness and intelligence. At least your sadder students will understand. (0:34)

Mr. Plow Balancing Torques

Homer uses his knowledge of torque, static equilibrium, and radio tuners to keep from plunging over the cliff. (1:05)

Omega Less Than 1

Homer soon regrets setting the density of the universe to less than 1 as he tries to become an inventor. (1:14)

Smilin’ Joe Fission

The students are treated to a film about nuclear power featuring Smilin Joe Fission during their field trip to the nuclear plant. This may be the most accurate depiction of nuclear power ever. (1:39)

Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking saves Lisa with his rocket-powered wheel chair. The credit show that it really was the professor. (2:41)