BrainPOP Recent Topic Roundup: September 2023
As we kick off a new school year, we’re excited to unveil the latest from BrainPOP. Since our last update in April, our team has created new topics in math, science, English, social studies, health, and arts and music. Our content is meticulously designed to align with various standards, ensuring teachers access engaging resources that help students build essential literacy skills—like understanding the main idea, interpreting unfamiliar words and phrases, and drawing evidence to support their analysis. Whether you’re interpreting data in math class or analyzing a historical text in social studies, literacy skills are there—and so is BrainPOP. Here’s a glimpse of our recent releases:
New on BrainPOP
Primary and Secondary Sources: Research involves gathering information from sources. Some are primary sources, which capture people’s first-hand experiences—like eyewitness videos, emails, and interviews. Others are secondary sources, like encyclopedia entries and textbook articles, which are written after the fact from second-hand knowledge. Secondary sources combine information into a summary or analysis of a topic, which can help readers understand the context and broader themes. Students will learn the difference between primary and secondary sources, plus best practices for interpreting and using them in their own research.
R.J. Palcio: Here’s a way to offer an introduction—or a little added info—to inform your class’s reading of Wonder: A biography of its author, R,J. Palacio. Born to Colombian parents in New York City, she grew up surrounded by books, and started her career designing book covers. But her mother’s prediction that she’d be an author soon came true! After a chance encounter with a child with facial differences, she wrote Wonder, about a boy with Treacher Collins syndrome. The book became a bestseller, a movie, and a regular on school reading lists.
Intro to Area: Teach your students to find the area of a rectangle—whether they’re painting a wall or covering the entire floor with piddle pads. You can tile the whole surface with unit squares, and then add them up. But for rectangles, the fastest way to measure area is to multiply length times width. Dealing with a funky shape? Decompose it, or break it down, into rectangles. Then find the area of each, and add those up to find the total area. But if you’ve got a puppy, you better act fast!
Measuring Time: The trickiest part of pulling off the greatest prank of all time? Figuring out the timing! Students will learn how to work backwards from an end time to find a start time, including by subtracting various time intervals and by skip-counting, then how to estimate to double-check the math. Students will master going the other way, too: adding intervals of time on a number line to find an end time.
Remainders: In division equations, sometimes the dividend can’t be divided into equal parts. There’s a remainder, a chunk left over that’s less than the divisor. This topic will teach students that when they’re solving division word problems, deciding what to do with a remainder depends on the situation. They can either drop it, round up, or make it a fraction.
Stocks and Shares (update): Pssst: Buy low, sell high! Explore the mysteries of stocks and shares with your class. Students will learn exactly what stocks are, who owns them, and how their value is determined. They’ll find out about corporations and why a company would choose to be one. And they’ll discover what it means to own a share, and how and where all the trading happens. As they learn how to tell which stocks are high-risk and which are safer, they’ll discover how investing can keep someone afloat, make someone a millionaire—or turn someone into a pauper.
Eugenie Clark: Take your students on a swim through shark-infested waters with marine biologist Eugenie Clark! Don’t be scared—Clark was an expert in diving with sharks safely. While people often viewed sharks as dangerous killing machines, Clark saw them as fascinating and intelligent creatures. Through her scientific research and her work as a science communicator, she worked to shift the public’s image of sharks away from the mindless monsters so many people thought they were.
Levers (update): What do a seesaw, tweezers, scissors, and your arm have in common? They’re all examples of levers! Students will learn how this simple type of machine allows us to move things more easily by magnifying our effort. They’ll find out the four different components of a lever, and how they can be rearranged to form three different types of levers. They’ll also learn why lifting something heavy with a lever is easier than lifting without one. Now lift your heads to check out the movie!
Pulleys (update): Students will discover how pulleys are designed to decrease the effort you have to expend to move a heavy object. They’ll learn the concepts of resistance force and effort force and how they’re used in different pulleys. Finally, they’ll understand the components that make up a pulley, and how using two of these devices lets a person lift an object that weighs more than they do!
Rock Cycle (update): Everything changes after enough time, even if it’s set in stone! Your students will learn all about the rock cycle: how conditions on and inside Earth transform rock over time. They’ll discover how igneous rock forms from magma or lava, rock that’s been liquefied deep within the planet; and how once it’s hardened, weathering and erosion break it down and move pieces around. They’ll find out how those pieces, called sediments, can build up and fuse into sedimentary rock. Or, how rock can travel into the depths of the planet, where intense heat and pressure transform it into metamorphic rock. They’ll understand how these changes are taking place all around us—very, very slowly.
Scientific Method: Teach your students to take a look around, and question everything! This movie will go further than our original topic, now titled Intro to Scientific Method. The scientific method starts with observations about the world around us. Those become questions, and students can do research to see what is already known about the subject. That information will help them develop their hypothesis, a potential answer to test out. In their experiment, they’ll find evidence for or against their hypothesis. Many times, it’ll also spark new questions—science is never finished!
Water Cycle (update): Encourage your students to dive into the science behind water, the substance that makes life on Earth possible! They’ll learn how every living thing needs water, and thanks to the water cycle, we never run out. Our bodies are just a brief pit stop along the journey for water molecules. They evaporate into the sky as vapor, condense to form clouds, and precipitate back down to the ground as rain or snow. As water moves across Earth’s surface, it transforms landscapes through weathering and erosion.
Wheel and Axle (update): Wheels and axles have been around for some 7,000 years—encourage your students to check out how they work! They’ll discover how these two devices work together as a simple rotating machine to decrease the amount of effort needed to move something from one place to another. They’ll see why turning a wheel creates a shorter but more powerful force at the wheel’s axle, thus making things like doorknobs and car wheels go! Are your students ready to do some wheelies?
Court System (update): Hear ye, hear ye—come and hear the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth about the U.S. court system! Your students will learn the difference between civil and criminal cases, plus how state and federal courts are organized. Additionally, students will learn about the court systems within the military and on Native American reservations.
High Holidays: This topic will introduce students to the two most important Jewish holidays: Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, is a time to reflect on the past year, commit to better behavior in the new year, and seek forgiveness from anyone you’ve wronged. It’s also celebrated with a festive meal featuring special foods. Students will learn about the shofar, a ram’s horn that is blown 100 times a day during prayer service. Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, follows 10 days after Rosh Hashanah. The day is spent in fasting, prayer and seeking forgiveness from God. At sundown, friends and families gather to break their fast.
Queen Lili’uokalani: Say “Aloha!” to Queen Lili’uokalani, the last monarch of the Kingdom of Hawaii! Hawaii was an independent kingdom long before it became a state. But under the rule of Lili’uokalani’s brother, King Kalākaua, a group of wealthy sugar planters grew more and more powerful. Lili’u spent her short reign fighting to protect Hawaii’s independence. But she was overthrown in a coup by a group of local businessmen. Eventually, the U.S. annexed Hawaii. But Lili’u never stopped fighting for her people! Even today, she is a hero to many Hawaiians.
Arts and Music
Bruce Lee: Introduce your class to one of the most iconic figures of the 20th century! Though he only lived 32 years, Bruce Lee was a successful martial artist, actor, writer, teacher, and filmmaker. Lee first appeared on American television as Kato in The Green Hornet, making him a huge star in Asia. After a successful career making films in Hong Kong, Lee produced the first Asian film co-produced by a major studio in Hollywood. Lee’s body of work went against stereotypes, and his influence can be seen in countless action films, video games, and even hip-hop today.
New on BrainPOP Jr.
Adding Three or More Numbers: How would you solve 3 + 3 + 9 + 1? In this math movie, Annie and Moby learn different ways to add three or more numbers. Students will explore how they can make a ten or use doubles in order to add easier numbers first. They’ll use different strategies to find the ones that make sense to them!
Missing Numbers with Addition and Subtraction: What’s the missing number in 3 + ? = 7? In this movie, Annie and Moby investigate different ways to find missing numbers in addition and subtraction number sentences. Students will learn how they can draw, count on, and use doubles facts and fact families to solve.
Position: Inside, outside, above, and below! In this math movie, Annie and Moby learn words that describe position. Students explore different words that describe the place where something is, such as between, beside, under, and around! Students then apply these words to describe the position of different shapes.
Reading and Writing
Pat Mora: What makes you feel joy and gratitude? In this movie, Annie and Moby learn about the bilingual author Pat Mora and explore her stories and poems. Students explore how she gets inspiration from family members, Mexican culture and traditions, and even the land around her. Students also learn how she combines both Spanish and English in her writing and spreads “bookjoy” to everyone!
Setting Goals: Be SMART about setting goals! In this movie, Annie and Moby explore how to set goals that are SMART, which stands for specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and time-bound. Students find out how to set a goal that’s right for them and learn how to set themselves up for success!
Worry: What makes you worry? Everyone feels worried sometimes! In this movie, Annie and Moby explore how people feel and act when they feel worried. Students will explore different strategies they can use to calm down when they feel stressed about a problem. They’ll also understand how feeling worried can sometimes be helpful!
Stay tuned! Here’s what we’re working on in the coming months:
- Bar Graph
- Comparing Prices
- Compounds and Mixtures
- Hip-Hop and Rap (update)
- Proportional Relationships (update)
Denesha Williams is production manager on the BrainPOP Editorial Team.