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What can Captain Kirk teach your class? Using movies to teach

This is an excerpt from Teaching With Movies by Teresa O'Bannon & Marni Goldenberg.

Teaching With Movies: Recreation, Sports, Tourism, and Physical Education is a resource of pop culture movies. When the film are framed (set up in advance) and debriefed (analyzed afterward) effectively, they can serve as educational tools to enhance learning objectives in a variety of settings.

The framing section of the entry provides students with the proper perspective for viewing the movie. The debriefing section provides questions to help students reflect on the connections between the film and the course content. The concept exploration section provides suggestions for activities to give students a chance to explore aspects of the film's theme in greater depth.


DIRECTOR: Roger Nygard


YEAR: 1997

RATING: PG (for mild sexual and drug references)


CORE CONCEPTS: Leisure behavior, commercial recreation, tourism and travel

The original Star Trek series aired on television from 1966 to 1969. The fervor of the fans only grew in the years after the series went into reruns. A number of television series and movies aired in the decades following the original. The die-hard fans-Trekkies or Trekkers, depending on whom you are speaking with-live and breathe the Star Trek mythology. They spend millions on memorabilia and travel to attend theme conventions. The movie, Trekkies, introduces the viewer to the people who are active participants in the Star Trek phenomenon. Trekkies are interviewed at conventions, at home, and at their places of business. The viewer is able to see how deeply a hobby can become a way of life. One of the most enlightening aspects of this documentary is that people from all age groups, professions, and income brackets participate.


Trekkies can be viewed in its entirety; however, it's possible students may feel that they "get the point" early on and tune out. If you prefer to show only part of the movie, select a series of scenes.

Scene 1 ("Opening Sequence") is important because it sets up the concept of a Trekkie. Scene 4 introduces the viewer to Barbara Adams, a fan who sat on a rather important jury in full Star Trek uniform. In scene 19, we follow Barbara to her place of business, where she prefers to be referred to as "The Commander." Scene 5 ("The First Convention") shows stars from the original Star Trek television series talking about the first fan conventions. Scene 8 ("Fan or Fanatic") explores the difference between a fan and a fanatic. Scene 12 ("Changing Lives") includes interviews of stars from various Star Trek series telling stories about their involvement with fans. Scenes 24 and 25 are related to the topic of tourism. Scene 24 ("James T. Kirk") ends with the relevance of a small Iowa town to Star Trek. Scene 25 ("Welcome to Vulcan") begins with the relevance of a small town in Canada.


Since many young people are not overly familiar with Star Trek, consider showing a classic Star Trek episode (such as "The Trouble With Tribbles") to get them familiar with the characters. Develop a worksheet for students to complete regarding their most passionate leisure pursuits.

  • What are you "really into"?
  • Are you a fan of any sport, television show, or music group?
  • Would you consider yourself to be fanatical about anything?

Debriefing Questions

Try not to let viewers walk away from the movie thinking that Star Trek fans are crazy. Get students thinking about how fanaticism is displayed in other areas of life.

  • Star Trek fans are "really into it." Can you think of other fans who are really "into" something? Compare Trekkies to Foodies (fans of food), oenophiles (wine lovers), or some other more mainstream group of people.
  • Compare NASCAR fans to Trekkies.
  • Someone in the movie refers to Barbara Adams as "brave." What is the difference, in this case, between brave and obsessed?

As an interesting aside: Gabriel Köerner, the youngest fan profiled in the movie, has gone on to be a successful digital artist. Check out his filmography by searching for his name on

Be sure to end class by saying "Live long and prosper!"

This is an excerpt from Teaching With Movies: Recreation, Sports, Tourism, and Physical Education.

More Excerpts From Teaching With Movies