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"Show 301" Guide & Resources

Watch as mild-mannered engineering students vie for first place in a competition featuring vehicles built from "junk." Watch as two people are treated with a rather surprising prescription for their muscle disorders -- a dose of lethal botulin toxin. Find out why good leaders may also be convincing liars. And go behind the scenes at George Lucas's Industrial Light and Magic studio, where modern wizards create hi-tech magic.

Here are the topics and running times of the stories on this show and a brief description of related activities in this online teaching guide:

  • MIT Competition: Battle of the Crazy Machines (running time: 12:52) -- Find out which strategy is victorious in this annual competition, as engineering students battle it out with their vehicles build from "junk." Activity: Build your own contraptions out of simple machines and compete in a not-so-simple contest.
    Report from the Field: MIT Student Thomas Massie.

  • Botulin Toxin: Rx for Dystonia (running time: 12:30) -- FRONTIERS follows the unusual medical treatments of two people, each suffering from a muscular disorder. The prescription is surprising: a dose of poison. Activity: Recipes for growing bacteria.
    Report from the Field: Biochemist Ed Schantz.

  • Leaders and Liars (running time: 11:17) -- Fascinating investigations into human behavior try to answer the question: "Do good leaders also make good liars?" Activity: Exercises that explore the dynamics of leadership.
    Report from the Field:Psychologist Carrie Keating.

  • Science of Special Effects (running time: 9:33) -- A crew of hi-tech special effects "magicians" provides a rare glimpse of a TV commercial in the making. Activity: Using a movie camera, students learn how to create two kinds of simple animations.
    Report from the Field: Special Effects Artist Jeff Mann.


Scientific American Frontiers
Fall 1990 to Spring 2000
Sponsored by GTE Corporation,
now a part of Verizon Communications Inc.