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Math in the Movies: Black Panther

Explaining math concepts with holograms & super heroes - Does it get more exciting than that?

That’s exactly what made this lesson on the concepts of holograms, scale factor, and the Pythagorean theorem so much fun!

The Black Panther was a hit movie this year, and it’s not a surprise. Movie goers loved all of the cool technology, fast-paced action, and awesome special effects! All of that fun wrapped up into a Marvel comic storyline, filled with mythological heroes and villains, made for a super-fun-filled, hands-on, kinesthetic math adventure!

As you’ll see in the video that explains the structure of the lesson plan, we studied several main ideas:

[if !supportLists]● [endif]Scale factor, the four transformations including translation, reflection, rotation, and dilation.

[if !supportLists]● [endif]Holograms, how they are made and how they work.

[if !supportLists]● [endif]Prisms, using the Pythagorean theorem to create trapezoids to create the “hologram” images.

The Story and the Tech

One of the amazing pieces of technology in Black Panther is the use of the Kimoyo Beads, a super-advanced communication tech that Wakanda developed. If you haven’t seen the movie yet, Wakandans is the home of Black Panther, king of the Wakandans. They use the Kimoyo Beads to carry the medical history of the wearer. The communication bead acts sort of like their mobile phones to talk to another Kimoyo Bead wearer. Another separate bead provides access to the Wakandan database through a holographic display. Those beads can be used to receive broadcasts, and those holographic images can be sized and used from large, projection screen-sized images to smaller, personal-use sized images. These Kimoyo Beads and their tech formed the basis of this lesson.

Scale Factor

The students learned all about scale factor, and we used a terrific video and comic book available on called Scale Ella. I had the students practice all of the lessons learned about scale factor and its effect on the coordinate plane using several activities throughout my lesson plan.


Our study of holograms centered around the cool tech that our heroes in Black Panther used to communicate. The kimoyo bead scaled down the hologram of the person sending a message. We talked about how holograms are made and how they could be hypothetically used to communicate like that.

What is a hologram exactly?

“Holography is a highly-specialized and technical photographic process. It allows one to record the light scattered by an object as it is subjected to a laser beam. The recording can then be presented in a form, known as a hologram, which makes it appear three-dimensional.” (

Several videos are available on YouTube that explain holograms and how they work, so the students watched videos and discussed what they were learning.

Creating the Prisms and the Hologram:

We were ready to work towards the anticipated final activity: making our prisms and watching our holograms come to life! Now, we could not make true holograms with just an ipad, but we could create a "hologram-like" image to view in class.

After the kids scaled their images in Activity 1 and Activity 2 from the lesson plan, they were rewarded with being armed with everything they needed to create their own holograms! They worked through the process of created a clear bottomless trapezoidal prism. These prisms scaled to the correct scale factor were used to project the "hologram-like" images on ipad. This was Activity 3 from the lesson plan. You can find several videos on YouTube by searching the term “hologram video.

Using Math to Mimic Art

How exhilarating, to see the floating holograms, walking around, looking back at us, seemingly coming alive! What an accomplishment, and what a positive reinforcement for all of the learning and math that we did on this lesson!

This lesson was a hands-on and fun way to learn standards-based mathematics. My students related to the material and wanted to learn more for complete understanding. As always, we are striving for lessons that keep students interested and motivated daily. And as I've talked about in other blogs, keeping students interested leads to retention, and ultimately success! Math success leads to students having a great math esteem, which then helps them continue to destroy any math anxiety!

And to me, that worth more than anything else!

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