NOVA: Full-Length Broadcast Collection


In this collection, you’ll find twenty NOVA full-length episodes recommended for classroom use by NOVA Education’s Teacher Advisory Board. NOVA airs Wednesday nights at 9/8c on most PBS stations. All programs stream for free on NOVA’s website for up to four weeks after the first broadcast. The following programs are streaming on the NOVA website in perpetuity:

• Poisoned Water
• School of the Future
• 15 Years of Terror
• The Elegant Universe
• Fabric of the Cosmos
• Making Stuff
• Hunting the Elements
• Making North America
• Finding Life Beyond Earth
• Vaccines—Calling the Shots
• Can Alzheimer's Be Stopped

To find classroom resources featuring short video segments from NOVA and support materials, visit the NOVA Collection.

For over 40 years, NOVA has been educating and entertaining millions of television viewers with media stories of scientific discovery that enlighten and challenge the mind. NOVA Education helps teachers bring these compelling stories to their students by providing them with free tools, strategies, and media resources.

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  • Making More Stuff | Full-Length Broadcast

    Host David Pogue hits the road to explore the frontiers of invention and innovation. This program premiered on October 16, 2013 on PBS.

    In this four-part special, technology columnist and best-selling author David Pogue takes a wild ride through the cutting-edge science that is powering a next wave of technological innovation. Pogue meets the scientists and engineers who are plunging to the bottom of the temperature scale, finding design inspiration in nature, and breaking every speed limit to make tomorrow's "stuff" "Colder," "Faster," "Safer," and "Wilder."

    For classroom resources featuring video segments from this program, check out the NOVA: Making Stuff Collection.

    This resource is part of the NOVA: Full-Length Broadcast Collection.

    Grades: 6-13+
  • Earth From Space | Full-Length Broadcast

    Detailed satellite images reveal the web of connections that sustain life on Earth. This program premiered on June 26, 2013 on PBS.

    "Earth From Space" is a groundbreaking two-hour special that reveals a spectacular new space-based vision of our planet. Produced in extensive consultation with NASA scientists, NOVA takes data from earth-observing satellites and transforms it into dazzling visual sequences, each one exposing the intricate and surprising web of forces that sustains life on earth. Viewers witness how dust blown from the Sahara fertilizes the Amazon; how a vast submarine "waterfall" off Antarctica helps drive ocean currents around the world; and how the Sun's heating up of the southern Atlantic gives birth to a colossally powerful hurricane. From the microscopic world of water molecules vaporizing over the ocean to the magnetic field that is bigger than Earth itself, the show reveals the astonishing beauty and complexity of our dynamic planet.

    For classroom resources featuring video segments from this program, check out the NOVA: Earth System Science Collection.

    This resource is part of the NOVA: Full-Length Broadcast Collection.

    Grades: 6-13+
  • Einstein's Big Idea | Full-Length Broadcast

    The story behind the world's most famous equation, E = mc2. This program premiered on October 11, 2005 on PBS.

    Over 100 years ago, Albert Einstein grappled with the implications of his revolutionary special theory of relativity and came to a startling conclusion: mass and energy are one, related by the formula E = mc2. In "Einstein's Big Idea," NOVA dramatizes the remarkable story behind this equation. E = mc2 was just one of several extraordinary breakthroughs that Einstein made in 1905, including the completion of his special theory of relativity, his identification of proof that atoms exist, and his explanation of the nature of light, which would win him the Nobel Prize in Physics. Among Einstein's ideas, E = mc2 is by far the most famous. Yet how many people know what it really means? In a thought-provoking and engrossing docudrama, NOVA illuminates this deceptively simple formula by unraveling the story of how it came to be.

    For classroom resources featuring video segments from this program, check out Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity and Einstein's Thoughts on the Ether.

    This resource is part of the NOVA: Full-Length Broadcast Collection.

    Grades: 6-13+
  • Deadliest Volcanoes | Full-Length Broadcast

    From Japan's Mt. Fuji to Yellowstone's buried supervolcano, how can people best prepare for the most lethal eruptions? This program premiered on January 4, 2012 on PBS.

    Millions of people around the world live in the shadow of active volcanoes. Under constant threat of massive volcanic eruptions, their homes and their lives are daily at risk from these sleeping giants. From Japan's Mount Fuji to the "Sleeping Giant" submerged beneath Naples to the Yellowstone "supervolcano" in the United States, NOVA will travel with scientists from around the world who are at work on these sites, attempting to discover how likely these volcanoes are to erupt, when it might happen, and exactly how deadly they could prove to be.

    This resource is part of the NOVA: Full-Length Broadcast Collection.

    Grades: 6-13+
  • Secrets of the Sun | Full-Length Broadcast

    With new tools, scientists are striving to better grasp our star and its potentially widely destructive solar storms. This program premiered on April 25, 2012 on PBS.

    It contains 99.9 percent of all the matter in our solar system and sheds hot plasma at nearly a million miles an hour. The temperature at its core is a staggering 27 million degrees Fahrenheit. It convulses, it blazes, it sings. You know it as the sun. Scientists know it as one of the most amazing physics laboratories in the universe. Now, with the help of new spacecraft and Earth-based telescopes, scientists are seeing the sun as they never have before and even recreating what happens at its very center in labs here on Earth. Their work will help us understand aspects of the sun that have puzzled scientists for decades. But more critically, it may help scientists predict and track solar storms that have the power to zap our power grid, shut down telecommunications, and ground global air travel for days, weeks, or even longer. Such storms have happened before—but never in the modern era of satellite communication. "Secrets of the Sun" reveals a bright new dawn in our understanding of our nearest star—one that might help keep our planet from going dark.

    This resource is part of the NOVA: Full-Length Broadcast Collection.

    Grades: 6-13+
  • Life's Greatest Miracle | Full-Length Broadcast

    Trace human development from embryo to newborn through the stunning microimagery of photographer Lennart Nilsson. This program premiered on November 20, 2001 on PBS.

    A sequel to one of the most popular NOVAs of all time, "Miracle of Life," this Emmy Award-winning program tracks human development from embryo to newborn using the extraordinary microimagery of Swedish photographer Lennart Nilsson.

    This resource is part of the NOVA: Full-Length Broadcast Collection.

    Grades: 6-13+
  • Chasing Pluto | Full-Length Broadcast

    Watch as the New Horizons spacecraft captures our first clear view of Pluto’s icy surface. This program premiered on July 15, 2015 on PBS.

    On July 14, 2015, the New Horizons spacecraft, one of the most advanced ever built, is scheduled to fly by Pluto to take the very first detailed images of the dwarf planet. After nine years and 3 billion miles, NOVA will finally get a close look at this strange, icy world, but only if the craft can survive the final, treacherous leg of its journey, which could take it through a dangerous field of debris. If it does, New Horizons is poised to make dramatic new discoveries, not just about Pluto, but about the vast realm of icy bodies lurking beyond Neptune, relics of the earliest days of the solar system’s formation. Back on Earth, the planetary scientists who have spent decades working on this mission anxiously await a signal from their spacecraft. NOVA's cameras will be there to witness the moment. If all goes well, NOVA will see Pluto’s mysterious surface in unprecedented detail and learn new secrets about other alien worlds at the far limits of our solar system.

    For classroom resources featuring video segments from this program, check out The New Horizons Spacecraft and Pluto Flyby and Why Study Pluto and Dwarf Planets?.

    This resource is part of the NOVA: Full-Length Broadcast Collection.

    Grades: 6-13+
  • At the Edge of Space | Full-Length Broadcast

    Can scientists unravel the mysterious phenomena that lurk between Earth and space? This program premiered on June 18, 2014 on PBS.

    Between the blue sky above and the infinite blackness beyond lies a frontier that scientists have only just begun to investigate. In "At the Edge of Space," NOVA takes viewers on a spectacular exploration of the Earth-space boundary that's home to some of nature's most puzzling and alluring phenomena: the shimmering aurora, streaking meteors, and fleeting flashes that shoot upwards from thunderclouds, known as sprites. Only discovered in 1989, sprites have eluded capture because they exist for a mere split-second—40-times faster than an eye blink. NOVA rides with scientists in a high-flying weather observation plane on a hunt for sprites, finally snaring them in 3D video and gaining vital clues to unraveling their mystery. Combining advanced video technology with stunning footage shot from the International Space Station, "At the Edge of Space" probes the boundary zone and offers an entirely new perspective on our home planet.

    This resource is part of the NOVA: Full-Length Broadcast Collection.

    Grades: 6-13+
  • Deadliest Earthquakes | Full-Length Broadcast

    Big quakes are inevitable, but can we lessen their devastation? This program premiered on June 25, 2014 on PBS.

    In 2010, several epic earthquakes delivered one of the worst annual death tolls ever recorded. The deadliest strike, in Haiti, killed more than 200,000 people and reduced homes, hospitals, schools, and the presidential palace to rubble. In exclusive coverage, a NOVA camera crew follows a team of U.S. geologists as they enter Haiti in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy. The team hunts for crucial evidence that will help them determine exactly what happened deep underground and what the risks are of a new killer quake. Barely a month after the Haiti quake, Chile was struck by a quake 100 times more powerful, unleashing a tsunami that put the entire Pacific coast on high alert. In a coastal town devastated by the rushing wave, NOVA follows a team of geologists as they battle aftershocks to measure the displacement caused by the earthquake. Could their work, and the work of geologists at earthquake hot spots around the U.S., one day lead to a breakthrough in predicting quakes before they happen? NOVA investigates compelling new leads in this profound scientific conundrum.

    For a classroom resource featuring a video segment from this program, check out Earthquake! When Plates Collide.

    This resource is part of the NOVA: Full-Length Broadcast Collection.

    Grades: 6-13+
  • Deadliest Tornadoes | Full-Length Broadcast

    Why was the 2011 tornado season in the U.S. so extreme, and, with advanced warning systems, why did so many die? This program premiered on April 11, 2012 on PBS.

    In 2011, the worst tornado season in decades left a trail of destruction across the U.S., killing more than 550 people. Why was there such an extreme outbreak? How do such outbreaks form? With modern warning systems, why did so many die? Is our weather getting more extreme - and if so how bad will it get? In this NOVA special, meet scientists striving to understand the forces at work behind last year's outbreak. Could their work improve tornado prediction in the future? NOVA also meets people whose lives have been upended by these extreme weather events and learn how we all can protect ourselves and our communities for the future.

    For a classroom resource featuring a video segment from this program, check out La Niña and Tornado Outbreaks.

    This resource is part of the NOVA: Full-Length Broadcast Collection.

    Grades: 6-13+
  • Inside the Megastorm | Full-Length Broadcast

    Watch as Megastorm Sandy unfolds, and explore what made it so much more devastating than other hurricanes. This program premiered on October 2, 2013 on PBS.

    Was Megastorm Sandy a freak combination of weather systems? Or are hurricanes increasing in intensity due to a warming climate? How did this perfect storm make search and rescue so dangerous? "Inside the Megastorm" takes viewers moment by moment through Sandy, its impacts, and the future of storm protection. Through first person accounts from those who survived, and from experts and scientists, "Inside the Megastorm" gives scientific context to a new breed of storms.

    For a classroom resource featuring a video segment from this program, check out Sandy and Climate Change.

    This resource is part of the NOVA: Full-Length Broadcast Collection.

    Grades: 6-13+
  • Invisible Universe Revealed | Full-Length Broadcast

    Follow the historic rescue of Hubble—the space telescope that unveiled the cosmos. This program premiered on April 22, 2015 on PBS.

    Twenty-five years ago, NASA launched one of the most ambitious experiments in the history of astronomy: the Hubble Space Telescope. In honor of Hubble's landmark anniversary, NOVA tells the remarkable story of the telescope that forever changed our understanding of the cosmos. But Hubble's early days nearly doomed it to failure: a one-millimeter engineering blunder had turned the billion-dollar telescope into an object of ridicule. It fell to five heroic astronauts in a daring mission to return Hubble to the cutting edge of science. This single telescope has helped astronomers pinpoint the age of the universe, revealed the birthplace of stars and planets, advanced our understanding of dark energy and cosmic expansion, and uncovered black holes lurking at the heart of galaxies. Join NOVA for the story of this magnificent machine and its astonishing discoveries.

    For classroom resources featuring video segments from this program, check out Discovering the Accelerating Universe and Hubble & the Expanding Universe.

    This resource is part of the NOVA: Full-Length Broadcast Collection.

    Grades: 6-13+
  • Life's Rocky Start | Full-Length Broadcast

    What is the secret link between rocks and minerals, and every living thing on Earth? This program premiered on January 13, 2016 on PBS.

    Four and a half billion years ago, the young Earth was a hellish place—a seething chaos of meteorite impacts, volcanoes belching noxious gases, and lightning flashing through a thin, torrid atmosphere. Then, in a process that has puzzled scientists for decades, life emerged. But how? NOVA joins mineralogist Robert Hazen as he journeys around the globe. From an ancient Moroccan market to the Australian Outback, he advances a startling and counterintuitive idea—that the rocks beneath our feet were not only essential to jump-starting life, but that microbial life helped give birth to hundreds of minerals we know and depend on today. It's a theory of the co-evolution of Earth and life that is reshaping the grand-narrative of our planet’s story.

    This resource is part of the NOVA: Full-Length Broadcast Collection.

    Grades: 6-13+
  • Himalayan Megaquake | Full-Length Broadcast

    The 2015 quake that rocked Nepal was the biggest in 90 years—can we forecast the next one? This program premiered on January 27, 2016 on PBS.

    On April 25, 2015, a devastating earthquake rocked Nepal. As it ripped across the Himalayas, it wiped out villages and left thousands dead. Hear the harrowing stories of the Nepalese people who lived near the epicenter and of survivors trapped on Everest. Through dramatic eyewitness footage, expert interviews, and stunning graphics, NOVA reveals the anatomy of this megaquake while scientists race to answer urgent questions—Is another big one just around the corner? What can we learn from the deadly combination of earthquakes and landslides? And can we rebuild to survive the next big one?

    This resource is part of the NOVA: Full-Length Broadcast Collection.

    Grades: 6-13+
  • Ice Age Death Trap | Full-Length Broadcast

    Scientists race to uncover a site in the Rockies packed with fossil mammoths and other extinct ice age beasts. This program premiered on February 1, 2012 on PBS.

    In the Rocky Mountains, archeologists uncover a unique fossil site packed with astonishingly well-preserved bones of mammoths, mastodons, and other giant extinct beasts. The discovery opens a highly focused window on the vanished world of the Ice Age in North America.

    This resource is part of the NOVA: Full-Length Broadcast Collection.

    Grades: 6-13+
  • Memory Hackers | Full-Length Broadcast

    Scientists are learning how we can edit memories—and delete our worst fears. This program premiered on February 10, 2016 on PBS.

    Memory is the glue that binds our mental lives. Without it, we’d be prisoners of the present, unable to use the lessons of the past to change our future. From our first kiss to where we put our keys, memory represents who we are and how we learn and navigate the world. But how does it work? Neuroscientists using cutting-edge techniques are exploring the precise molecular mechanisms of memory. By studying a range of individuals ranging—from an 11-year-old whiz-kid who remembers every detail of his life to a woman who had memories implanted—scientists have uncovered a provocative idea. For much of human history, memory has been seen as a tape recorder that faithfully registers information and replays intact. But now, researchers are discovering that memory is far more malleable, always being written and rewritten, not just by us but by others. We are discovering the precise mechanisms that can explain and even control our memories. The question is—are we ready?

    For a classroom resource featuring a video segment from this program, check out How Memories Form.

    This resource is part of the NOVA: Full-Length Broadcast Collection.

    Grades: 6-13+
  • Smartest Machine on Earth | Full-Length Broadcast

    Jeopardy! challenges even the best human minds. Can a computer win the game? This program premiered on May 2, 2012 on PBS.

    Jeopardy! challenges even the best human minds. Can a computer win the game? "Watson," an IBM computing system, is gearing up for a first-of-its-kind challenge—taking on human contestants on the game show Jeopardy! With a brain the size of 2,400 home computers and a database of about 10 million documents, will Watson be able to compute its way to victory? Win or lose, the difficulty of mimicking the human thought process with software is showing artificial-intelligence researchers that there's more than one way to be "intelligent."

    For a classroom resource featuring a video segment from this program, check out Are Computer Intelligent?.

    This resource is part of the NOVA: Full-Length Broadcast Collection.

    Grades: 6-13+
  • Secrets Beneath the Ice | Full-Length Broadcast

    Is Antarctica headed for a catastrophic meltdown? New evidence of ancient climate change may hold clues. This program premiered on December 28, 2011 on PBS.

    Almost three miles of ice buries most of Antarctica, cloaking a continent half again as large as the United States. But when an Antarctic ice shelf the size of Manhattan collapsed in less than a month in 2002, it shocked scientists and raised the alarming possibility that Antarctica may be headed for a meltdown. Even a 10 percent loss of Antarctica's ice would cause catastrophic flooding of coastal cities unlike any seen before in human history. What are the chances of a widespread melt? "Secrets Beneath the Ice" explores whether Antarctica's climate past can offer clues to what may happen. NOVA follows a state-of-the-art expedition that is drilling three-quarters of a mile into the Antarctic seafloor. The drill is recovering rock cores that reveal intimate details of climate and fauna from a time in the distant past when the Earth was just a few degrees warmer than it is today. As researchers grapple with the harshest conditions on the planet, they discover astonishing new clues about Antarctica's past—clues that carry ominous implications for coastal cities around the globe.

    This resource is part of the NOVA: Full-Length Broadcast Collection.

    Grades: 6-13+

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