Interstellar film

7 Films You Can Show to Teach STEM

With the year winding down, attention spans and energy are fading. To keep students engaged, and inspire them to continue to think about STEM over the summer, check out these 7 films you can show in class!

The Theory of Everything 

STEM Content: Though this film chronicles Stephen Hawking’s marriage, it also shows his battle with ALS and his commitment to science even amidst a debilitating illness. One physic teacher’s review of the film stated that while the story would not necessarily teach viewers great scientific findings, it was worth the watch.

Teaching Point: This film could open up discussion on the life of Stephen Hawking and his discoveries. It could also provide an interesting conversation on the balance between a career in STEM and a personal life. How does your work affect those around you? What does it take for someone to become a “genius?”

Rating: PG-13

October Sky 

STEM Content: October Sky tells the story of a young boy growing up in rural Tennessee during the Cold War era who dreams of a better life than working in the coal industry like his father. Thanks to one of his high school teachers, he’s inspired to go on to become an engineer and work with NASA.

Teaching Point: This could be a great way to discuss the history of engineering and how historical events like the Cold War affects STEM. It could also be interesting to hear what inspires students and how families influence students and what they study.

Rating: PG

Interstellar

STEM Content:The film follows the journey of a group of researchers into space to discover a new planet to live on in the coming demise of Earth. The movie discusses many complicated themes like the plausibility of black holes and relativity.

Teaching Point: This film presents many scientific concepts and while many movies fudge the facts, Interstellar seems to present a fairly accurate view. In an article on its accuracy, astrophysicist Professor Kip Thorne is quotes saying, “Some of the science is known to be true, some is an educated guess, and some is speculation.”

Rating: PG13

Imitation Game

STEM Content: This much-talked about film takes place during WWII, documenting the true story of a mathematician and his discovery that cracked the German’s code to help win the war. Similar to October Sky, it paints an interesting picture of how technology and STEM has changed history.

Teaching Content: This film could be a great way to discuss coding and how it has changed over the years. It also would be a good opportunity to learn about other ways STEM has helped win wars or cause significant historical events.

Rating: PG-13

Contagion 

STEM Content: This medical thriller documents the alarming reality of a worldwide epidemic spreading through airplanes and the frequent travel that now characterizes our society. This is an interesting look at a very real possibility in the healthcare world right now.

Teaching Content: With the recent ebola scare, this would be a very timely discussion on how to contain epidemics and how modern healthcare is evolving.

Rating: PG-13

Apollo 13 

STEM Content: Apollo 13 documents the notorious mission where a “routine’ space flight quickly became one of NASA’s biggest potential disasters. The movie examines the technical issues facing the flight and reveals a look into this technological crises.

Teaching Content: This could be a great way to discuss the future of space flight, how technology is changing, and NASA’s current role in space exploration.

Rating: PG

Limitless 

STEM Content: In the movie limitless, the protagonist takes a pill that allows him to use 100% of his brain. This empowers him to become confident and gets caught up in corruption in the business world. Though this film takes a very fictionalized approach to the subject, it still brings up interesting points and could prompt STEM-themed discussions.

Teaching Content: This film would be an easy way to talk about multiple facets of STEM. For example, how much of the brain do you really use on a daily basis and how do different parts of your brain influence you?  

Rating: PG-13

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For more ideas on teaching STEM and prompting discussion with your students, take our quiz to find out your STEM teaching style.

 

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Courtney Runn

Courtney is a senior at the University of Texas where she studies journalism and Italian. An Austin native, she loves living in the capital of Texas but also has a soft spot for Italia where she spent middle school and high school. A few of her favorite things include chai tea lattes, spending time with her golden retriever puppy, and good food shared with even better friends.

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