Hollywood’s Top STEM Movies
November 8 is National STEM Day—a day to inspire children to explore and pursue their interests in science, technology, engineering, and math. Instead of teaching the four disciplines as separate subjects, STEM integrates the four subjects into a learning model based on real life experiments and events. According to STEMconnector.org, 2018 projections estimate the need for 8.65 million workers within STEM-related jobs. The U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics estimates that, by 2018, the majority of STEM careers will break down to 71 percent in computing, 16 percent in traditional engineering, 7 percent in physical sciences, 4 percent in life sciences, and 2 percent in mathematics.
STEM is a part of so many awesome jobs and has influenced many historical events. Hollywood has embraced STEM and developed a number of STEM-related movies that have inspired and influenced many. Some movies are based on true stories and others provide a creative spin on STEM. Here are a few of our favorites.
October Sky is a family movie that teaches the value of following one’s dreams despite the obstacles. The film follows the true story of Homer Hickman, son of a West Virginia coal miner. Homer is inspired when he sees the first Sputnik launch in 1957 and decides to pursue a career in rocketry despite his father’s objections. The film follows Homer’s struggles as he strives to perfect his rockets with the help of his friends and other mentors. The general themes of October Sky revolve around family and perseverance, but the entirety of the film follows the interests of rocket science, space, and engineering.
Apollo 13 is a film that should be on every STEM movie list. The movie will go down in history as one of the best films, not to mention it’s definitely a movie for those interested in NASA and the space program. The astronauts must try to get home safely after an oxygen tank explodes. They abort the moon landing and attempt to address the technical issues that occur because of the explosion. Apollo 13 is based on an actual voyage made by astronauts Jim Lovell, Fred Haise, and Jack Swigert.
It’s probably quite safe to say that just about any person who’s interested in STEM played with LEGO bricks at some point in their childhood. The LEGO Movie is centered on the ingenuity and creativity that is possible with engineers and of course you guessed it–LEGO! The film hits key points about the value of working as a team and how working as an individual can also be productive. Even as an adult, you’ll find yourself laughing at the humor because it is appealing to all ages on a variety of different levels.
Without a doubt, Big Hero 6 makes STEM look very cool! The action-packed scenes incorporate science, technology, engineering, and math. The main characters proclaim themselves “nerds” and end up being the superheroes who protect the city of San Fransokyo. Each member of the team uses their knowledge of engineering, chemistry, and robotics to battle against the villain Yokai. The film teaches viewers the power of teamwork and how powerful a STEM education can be.
Professor Philip Brainard, played by Robin Williams, develops a new energy source in the film Flubber. While combating various distractions, Philip ends up creating a green goo substance as a result of his experiment. He names the substance Flubber. The goo increases speed as it bounces and becomes extremely difficult to control. Philip works on the Flubber and performs various tests. We won’t ruin the film for you, but it is filled with a great battle that involves kidnapped Flubber and STEM know-how.
The film Spare Parts is based on the Wired Magazine article “La Vida Robot” by Joshua Davis about a group of students from a high school in Phoenix, Arizona, who won first place over M.I.T. in the 2004 MATE ROV competition. A big part of the story centers on the lack of funds the group has to fund their project. The team looks for spare parts and asks for donations from local businesses. Their small budget forces the group to scale back from the original plan and to make alterations on how the robot is constructed. However, they’re able to use their STEM knowledge to prevail in the end. George Lopez and Jamie Lee Curtis star in this great STEM-centered film that’s perfect for a family movie night.
Do you have a favorite STEM film? Let us know in the comments!
Angela Guzman is a contributing writer for Learning Liftoff. She has interviewed notable celebs such as Reese Witherspoon, Dwyane Wade, and Hugh Jackman. With a degree in journalism from Old Dominion University, she strives to inspire others through her writing. She enjoys long walks at Target with a Starbucks drink in hand. When she’s not busy writing, she loves spending time with her husband and their two daughters.