Interstellar may take place in a galaxy far, far away, but it's no Star Wars. Big Hero 6 may be about a group of superheroes, but they're not The Avengers. And, that's a good thing, at least for the future of the real world.
As much as moviegoers love sci-fi fantasies, the fantasy often trumps science. Audiences mostly go to movies for sheer entertainment, so taking us away to lands where Sith Lords or billionaire vigilantes stir things up is a welcome accompaniment to popcorn and Junior Mints. But, inspiration may also "STEM" from movies, nudging youth to create new worlds through innovation, and this weekend's family-friendly releases are the kick starter.
I'm no Neil deGrasse Tyson, but compared to most movies, Interstellar speaks about quantum physics, gravity, wormholes and intergalactic space travel in realistic terms. The long equations scrawled across wipe boards and discussions about slingshotting around black holes sailed right over my head, but I am betting that STEM-minded tweens and teens -- like Mackenzie Foy's "Murph" -- will see the events in Interstellar as achievable. Some may believe they could be the one to discover a new dimension. And, they just might.
What Interstellar does for space-related science, Big Hero 6 does for robotics, chemistry and tech. This Disney Animation film is about one 14-year-old and five college-age friends who become superheroes. Their superpower? Their brains. Creating different science applications, they are able to construct various supersuits. By the way, the villain they're after has stolen the teen's science fair project and using it for evil, so the kid even gets credit for creating the invention they're fighting.
A third film that's out this weekend, The Theory of Everything, is the biopic of noted physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking. The story is mostly about the relationship with his wife and his incredible struggle and triumph over his incurable and deadly disease. However, Hawking's complex theories are made understandable in this film, and we meet him as a student -- which, again, may serve as a source of inspiration among teen viewers.
All three films promote college as a brain quencher, where one must go to achieve his full potential -- not just the next thing after high school. This weekend's movie selection offers plenty of seeds to STEM kids intellectual futures -- it's up to you to help them bloom.