Days of Thunder

Envy (2004)


Concept featured in film: Nature of Science; thinking outside of the box

Location of clip: DVD: Chapter 2 - 4

Play Flickclip Here

Summary of clip: Tim (Ben Stiller) and Nick (Jack Black) are neighbors, best friends, and coworkers. In this scene, Tim is giving Nick a ride to work and Nick is constantly discussing invention ideas. Tim continues to tell Nick that he is crazy and that he needs to just focus in order to succeed in their field of work. On the route home, Tim and Nick witness a dog doing its "business" and Nick comes up with another harebrained idea of a spray that makes dog poo disappear. He calls Nick with a name for his invention calling it VaPOOrizer.

Connection of flickclip to the concept:As Nick's idea for Vapoorizer becomes a reality, Nick gives Tim an opportunity to invest in the invention, but Tim doesn't want to take a risk for another one of Nick's bad ideas. Vapoorizer makes Nick rich and Tim becomes extremely envious of Nick's success. Tim has a very "inside the box" personality and thinks that playing it safe will eventually make him "successful". Nick, on the other hand, is consistently thinking outside the box, which proves to be a profitable personality type.

Suggestions to Teachers:

1. Suggested questions for students when viewing the clip:

a. Why did Tim think that Nick should stop being a dreamer and start focusing?

b. What would the world be like if everyone kept their heads "out of the clouds" and didn't dream big? What important things would we be without?

c. Is it more important to focus on the facts or think outside of the box in sceince?

2. This clip would be a good way to start off the year as it shows the students that thinking outside of the box can be a very successful thought process for the science classroom. It could be fun to start discussing inventions that would not have come about without someone thinking outside of the box and what the world would be like without some of these inventions.

3. Follow the lesson plan from Science Netlinks for Inventors & Innovators (
where students will read about a clever invention made by a student and then use the Inventor of the Week archives to create a project (outlines in the lesson plan) showing that inventors in history have been all different kinds of people of differing ages, races, and sexes. This is a good lesson to keep students thinking outside of the box for the entire year. Keep reminding them that an open mind can prove to be very helpful in their education and future successes.