July 21, 2014
by Larry Ferlazzo
I’ve been doing some thinking and writing about the idea of “transfer of learning” — helping students be able to apply what they learn in one situation to other contexts. I’ve previously posted The Best Resources For Learning About The Concept Of “Transfer” — Help Me Find More.
I think I have a pretty good understanding of it now as I prepare a lesson plan. However, I’d like to spice it up with videos of movie or TV scenes, stories from real-life or from literature, and pithy quotes and hope readers will contribute suggestions.
Obviously, this science from Apollo 13 and other clips from The Best Videos Showing “Thinking Outside The Box” — Help Me Find More could apply, but I’m hoping for a lot more.
I happened upon a comment in a paper about transfer saying the Karate Kid was a good example, and they sure were right.
Pat Morita having the kid do a variety of tasks like waxing a car and painting a fence helps him develop skills that he is then able to apply in a totally different situation. If you don’t remember the movie, here is the progression of scenes:
Here are some great MacGyver videos where he demonstrates transfer of learning — he has to remember what he learned in the past and apply that knowledge to entirely new situations in order to save his life:
Two kinds of transfers of learning are called “backward-reaching” and “forward-thinking.” In “backward-reaching,” you’re applying what you have previously learned to a new situation — that is demonstrated in the Karate Kid and MacGyver videos.
In a TEDx talk by Marc Chun about transfer, he talked about James Bond being a good example of “forward-thinking transfer.” In other words, when the scientist Q would give him his deadline gadgets prior to a mission, he would need to think about what situations he might use them in.
Here are some clips of Bond getting those gadgets from Q. The first one is probably the best one. The last two are compilations that include getting the gadgets prior to a mission and using gadgets. Unfortunately, they’re out of order so you might see a clip of him getting one followed by a clip of his using another. Too bad they’re not coordinated.
I discovered a MacGyver wiki that has a List of problems solved by MacGyver. It lists all the episodes, along with the problems he solved in each one and how he solved them. In addition, I discovered that CBS has put all the MacGyver episodes on YouTube.
Based on quick review, here are a few more clips I’m adding to this list. On some of them, I have included quotes from the wiki. I was originally going to use TubeChop to just share the clips themselves, but it didn’t seem to be working well today. So, I’ve embedded some of the entire episodes with instructions of when to start them:
On this one, the Pilot Episode, “”MacGyver plugs a sulfuric acid leak with chocolate. He states that chocolate contains sucrose and glucose. The acid reacts with the sugars to form elemental carbon and a thick gummy residue (proved to be correct on Mythbusters).” Start at 35:40 and end at 38:20
On this next one, Fire and Ice, “MacGyver opens a vault and steals back some diamonds first dusting the buttons for fingerprints with graphite from a pencil. The vault has a three-digit combination with unique digits and six buttons. The dusting narrows down the 120 combinations to 6 and the vault is easily opened. He then neatly gets the diamonds in a small bag using a paper as a funnel. (31.30) “Math and science do prove useful.” Start at 32:30 and end at 34:15.
Here, “MacGyver created a diversion and a surprise attack using an inner tube, pressured air, chloride, a catalyst, two glass jars and a gas mask. The inflatable boat was put in a truck and filled with air until the glass broke creating a loud noise. Meanwhile MacGyver filled the two gas bombs filling one glass jar with chloride and the other with a catalyst. Then he threw them at the bad guys resulting in a reaction producing toxic chlorine gas when the two liquids mixed. (36.00) When I was a kid my grandpa gave me two things I’ll never forget; a subscription of popular mechanics and a chemistry set. And this place was one BIG chemistry set! – MacGyver” Start at 36:00 and ends at 44:00
Thanks to reader Pam Pryer, here is an excellent example of transfer of learning demonstrated by everybody’s favorite fish, Nemo.
In the first video, he learns what “swimming down” can do and, in the second, he uses that knowledge to save hundreds of other fish: