Back to Film Festival

Film Festival - October Sky

Wednesday - October 29, 2003
MAC Playhouse - 3:30 pm - 6:15 pm

October Sky

Hosted by: Dr. Robert Singer, Professor of English
College Now English Course Coordinator
Dr. Mary Theresa Ortiz - College Now Science Course Coordinator

About the Movie: October Sky
Director, Joe Johnston 1997 - Rating PG

Set in the 1950s, October Sky is the story of Homer Hickam, a kid with only one future in sight, to work in the local coal mine like his father. However, in October 1957, everything changes when the first artificial satellite, Sputnik,goes into orbit. With that event, Homer becomes inspired to learn how to build rockets. With his friends and the local nerd, Homer sets out to show the world just who he is, as he shoots for the stars.

About the Presenter: Dr. Mary Theresa Ortiz
Dr. Ortiz is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Kingsborough Community College. Interested in space since childhood, she has worked for NASA in the Space Life Sciences Training Program at The Kennedy Space Center in Florida and as Faculty Research Fellow at The Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. Dr. Oritz is especially fond of the movie October Sky since her father nicknamed her "Sputty" after the launch of the first Sputnik I satellite.

ACT Format Question

Extra Credit Assignments
Given the recent tragic events involving the COLUMBIA space shuttle, in which seven astronauts lost their lives in the name of scientific progress, a movement has begun in Congress to limit future space exploration to unmanned, rather than manned, flights. This change in operation would involve the use of advanced technology, which is currently unavailable. The change also removes the "explorer" from the experience and depends on machinery to substitute for human insight and observation. However, an unmanned flight would pose no risk to life, would be less expensive, and basically, the same research data and information would be made available. This change of operation has become the subject of great debate.

You have been asked to write a letter to your local congressperson in which you will express your views concerning the issue of funding manned or unmanned space exploration. Should the government continue to sponsor manned flights, or should they switch to unmanned flights? Fully discuss your view; you may refer to recent historical events, other opinions, television or newspaper coverage, or even the film October Sky.

Mini-Research Project

(NOTE: This is NOT a reseach paper - it is a research-oriented experience in which students gather and categorize information. They can prepare outlines, note-cards and a bibliography, cite references, or practice any combination of these skills associated with preparing a research paper).

Utilizing the library and its resources, and/or material from the Internet, prepare an investigative project that focuses on any one of these topics associated with the film, October Sky:

a) the Cold War
b) the space race (until the landing on the Moon)
c) history of American coal mining with a focus on Kentucky
d) Cape Canaveral/Kennedy
e) Sputnik

Standard College Essay

Many issues arise from the analysis and discussion of the film, October Sky. Some of the more personal issues involve getting along with your parents, the importance of having friends, believing in yourself and acting on your dreams. Some broader social issues discussed in the film involve the importance of science in our lives, the positive role of teachers, overcoming educational and economic obstacles and the belief that the United States was "destined" to go into space. There are other related personal and social issues arising from the analysis of this film, and these are only some suggested and signification themes to consider.

In a full-length essay (approximately 400-500 words), later to be revised for content and correctness, discuss any of the issues raised in the film October Sky that you consider to be of special interest either for you or for society. Explain why and how these issues are significant not only in the film but also in relationship to your own life, the American experience or both.

Back to Film Festival