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Goethe-Institut’s International Science Film Festival



Part 5a —The 2019 science films: ‘Humboldt and the Web of Life’

WE continue our report on the 2019 Goethe-Institut (GI) science films that focus on the theme “Humboldt and the Web of Life.” Those in the discipline of science do well understand that nature interconnects with all forms of life and of physical reality. Provided, learning these facts are made easily understood by viewers of all ages including early learners, they would more likely desist from actions harmful to the environment. A side activity of the 2019 science films shown in India was to “teach students how to upcycle old T-shirts into cloth bags. That was after a movie called “Earth to Future,” which talks about moving toward a plastic-free world.” They also “designed exhibits at GI, such as waste segregation games and posters explaining the science from the movies.” Error! Hyperlink reference not valid.

Teaching science through cartoons. These days of the amazing media, early learners could be taught through cartoon characters popular to learners. For instance, different kinds of waste could be cartoon characters. Conversations among them could be such that each kind of garbage identifies itself and what harmful effects it could cause on the environment. Likewise, our food intake could be learned with much fun through cartoon characters playing the role of their origin, whether from plant or animal life and their influence on earth life. Along this entertaining pedagogy, the GI science films make use of young people as characters, enabling learners to identify with the film characters. Good script and animation could effectively show how human and animal action could impact on the web of life.

The 2019 films. A film for learners aged 12 to 16 has a revealing title: “The End of Coal — What’s Next in the Ruhr Area?” Its original title in German being “Das Ende der Steinkohle — Wie geht es weiter im Ruhrgebiet?“ Produced by Germany’s television GmbH (im Auftrag für denWDR) it runs for nine and a half minutes. Referring to the synopses of the films sent by GI to partner institutions, this film reports that the last coalmine in Germany closed in December 2018. Reporter Jana, a film character “wants to find out why this is a big deal for many people.” So, she “visits her home region, the Ruhr area.” What also “created a sense of life and shaped the Ruhr area in a unique way” is the fact that “for many centuries, coal was the main source of income for people in this area.” Jana searched for answers on what would happen now that coalmines would be closed. She “discovers completely new things — a huge coal oven in the Prosper coking plant in Bottrop, which is one of only a few companies still working with coal. Jana also visits a super-modern future laboratory in Dortmund and shares her experience.” For more of what the film reported, let us turn to a news item about the coal mines in Bottrop dated May 7, 2019.

“How the city of Bottrop is turning its back on coal: German city transitioning from a coal and steel center into an innovation hub”: “Lessons Learnt; December 21st, 2018, Bottrop, Germany: An era comes to an end, with the extraction of the last piece of coal

from the Prosper coal mine — active for more than 150 years and one of Germany´s last hard coal mine.” <energy-cities.eu › new-publication-out-local-energy-and-climate-road…>

“The former coal and steel city Bottrop is leading by example, showing how to transform this big change into an opportunity. With the Innovation-City Ruhr: Modellstadt Bottrop Project, funded by the European Regional Development Fund and the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, the city is experimenting on how to best transition to an innovative hub. Several cities are already copying Bottrop´s blueprint: a new governance structure based on a partnership between business, city, science, and citizens, but also on energy innovation.” For more, visit <energy-cities.eu › the-city-of-bottrop-is-transitioning-from-a-coal-and.>

In Misamis Oriental in Northern Mindanao, Germany’s Steag GmbH, a world-class energy company and a leader in advance coal-fired power generation technology, serves the region as a coal-fired power station. Back in Germany, a joint-venture power station is planned for mid-2023 involving Steag — “a modern joint-venture power station, which will be fundamental to the production of electricity, heat.” <energy-cities.eu › the-city-of-bottrop-is-transitioning-from-a-coal-and.> Likely, the lessons learned from this venture would also be shared by Steag in the Philippines.

Another film also for learners aged 12 to 16 is about “Earth: The Nature of Our Planet — Episode 02: Land” and runs for 49 minutes and 59 seconds, produced by Austria’s Terra Mater Factua Studios GmbH. How the web of life is, becomes vivid in this film. It informs us that “tectonic plates of our planet,” are in “constant motion;” “collide and grind against each other’’ “resulting in earthquakes or tsunamis.” “Paradoxically, the destructive forces below ground are also a source of new life.” This life “begins when plant seeds are transported by the wind to the pristine new islands, germinate and then vegetation takes root.” Viewers learn how nature’s actions impact on another part of nature. “The colonization of new territory is often a matter of chance. When fruit bats migrate to tropical islands, they inadvertently spread plant seeds from one place to the next” by leaving “their excrements; while wind can transport spiders, still clinging to their webs, across vast distances to strange new homes.”

These films reveal how natural phenomena produce a chain of action and reaction on the web of life.

Next Thursday: Last part of this series


The author, one of the country’s most accomplished institutional management experts, held top academic positions at Xavier University (the Ateneo de Cagayan) before heading chartered institutions. She attended topmost universities in the Philippines, Germany, Great Britain and Japan. An internationalization consultant on call, she is journal copy editor of, and Graduate Studies professorial lecturer at, the Liceo de Cagayan University. Awards include a Lifetime Professional Achievement from the Commission on Higher Education, the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (Verdienstorden der Bundesrepublik Deutschland) and recently, a distinguished pioneer and longest serving member of the Philippine Teacher Education Council representing Mindanao.


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