We love sharing stories of cool historic inventors and pioneering women who did amazing work for the STEAM field. So many of these stories would make amazing movies! Movies about science and invention introduce kids to heroes and other figures they can look up to and emulate.
The next time you’re making popcorn for movie night, check out one of these 10 movies meant to inspire kids.
Dream Big: Engineering Our World
Available in IMAX movies across the country, Dream Big: Engineering Our World showcases the projects that engineers and creators give their lives to and what comes from their passions. The movie features engineering feats like the Great Wall of China, underwater robots, and solar cars. It was created by MacGillivray Freeman Films, which specializes in IMAX movies. Watch this flick to explore how scientists approach problems and come up with solutions to meet their goals.
To the Arctic
MacGillivray Freeman Films also produced To The Arctic, a quick, 45-minute film about a polar bear family that tries to survive in brutal arctic conditions. Follow the story of a mom and her two cubs as they navigate the first few months of their lives. This movie is narrated by Meryl Streep with songs by Paul McCartney, making it a favorite for parents and kids.
Island of Lemurs: Madagascar
If your children are fascinated by nature, then they will love Island of Lemurs: Madagascar. Morgan Freeman narrates this documentary about “nature’s greatest explorers.” Lemurs arrived on Madagascar millions of years ago and have made the island their own. This film follows scientists who work to protect these fun, adventurous animals. Make this movie an interactive experience by joining the “Lemur League,” with trivia, games, and activities related to the movie’s stars.
Directed by Mary Mazzio, Underwater Dreams tells the story of four undocumented Mexican teens who developed an underwater robot and defeated MIT in a robotics competition. This documentary was named one of the Best Family Movies of 2014 by Common Sense Media, and has been praised by Barack Obama and educators across the country. It’s a can’t miss, heartwarming tale. You can even try to build your own family robot after watching it.
If You Build It
Another great documentary that features young inventors is If You Build It. This movie follows two teachers in one of the poorest counties of North Carolina who work with 10 students to complete a year-long building project. The students learn design thinking, creative problem solving, and other STEAM skills while developing projects that help the community and inspire them to learn. The movie is a favorite with teachers as well as parents who want to encourage creativity in their kids.
Earth Days is part of the American Experience series on PBS. The movie looks at factors in the 1960s that led to legislation and increased awareness about Earth’s fragile environment. It also looks at how the relationship between humans and the planet has changed in the 40 years following. The movie provides historical context for understanding the state of environmentalism today. Earth Days is also ideal for older students who are interested in government and want to learn more about civics.
Pirates of Silicon Valley
This movie looks at the early days of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates as they started developing the first mainstream computers and World Wide Web. About to hit its 20th anniversary, it’s interesting for both kids and parents who look back on that time. Richard Trenholm at CNet rewatched the movie in 2015 to see how it stands up over the years. He says it’s an “enjoyable primer on the foundation of Apple and Microsoft.”
Older kids who are interested in physics will enjoy Particle Fever, the story of six scientists who built the Large Hadron Collider in order to recreate the events of the Big Bang. As the film synopsis describes, imagine being able to sit next to Thomas Edison the first time he flipped the switch on a lightbulb. That’s the feeling you get watching the scientists work in this movie. The film is particularly helpful for budding inventors who get frustrated when their projects don’t work, to show them that most geniuses rarely achieve greatness on the first try.
Antarctica: A Year On Ice
This movie gives audiences a peek into what it’s like living in Antarctica. Anthony Powell and his wife Christine have been working there for years, and share this documentary after more than 10 years of filming. If you follow the Antarctica: A Year On Ice Facebook page, you’ll see Powell is still posting photos of his life on this frozen continent.
Microcosmos is an animal documentary that focuses on the tiny animals around us. It teaches audiences about the insects that live in meadows and ponds. Just because something is small doesn’t mean it isn’t complex and worth paying attention to. If your child loves creepy-crawlies and bringing home friends from the outdoors, they will likely be riveted by this film. After watching, take the next steps: go for a walk and see if you notice more insects and other micro-animals where you previously just saw puddles or shrubs.
Whatever your child is interested in, you’re sure to find an education flick that lets them explore STEAM concepts and fuels their curiosity about the world around them!