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Parents' Guide to

Inventing Tomorrow

By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 8+

Feel-good teen-scientist docu ideal for STEM-focused kids.

Movie NR 2018 87 minutes
Inventing Tomorrow Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

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Is It Any Good?

Our review:
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This documentary about a very diverse group of teen environmental scientists and innovators from around the globe is inspiring and powerful. All of the featured competitors are incredibly community-minded and hard-working. Some are comfortably middle class, and some are incredibly impoverished and have to work long hours after school to help support their families. They're more concerned with what will help their local environment than what looks good on college applications. And they've all spent more than 600 hours working on their science projects. Director Laura Nix follows the Spellbound formula of getting us interested in various prestigious fair contests, but what makes Inventing Tomorrow so interesting is that it's not some David vs. Goliath tale of whether the underdog will win. Even the kids who don't earn one of the top prizes at the Olympics of high school science fairs are still winners, because they've created something important and impressive.

Although Nix tries to invest viewers equally in all four stories, audiences will naturally feel more sympathetic toward one or two of the young scientists. All other things being equal, the three friends from Mexico are particular standouts because they have to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds. Their families, while loving and supportive, live humbly, without any extra income for even the $300 one of them needs to enroll in university. The boys work as waiters to save money and help their families. They admit to being the first in their families to attend college and talk about the responsibility they feel to support their families. It would be so easy to look at these three working-class brown boys and make classist, racist assumptions, but Nix reminds viewers that there are brilliant, capable, deserving kids in every corner of the world, representing every racial, ethnic, and religious minority group. Perhaps, despite all of the public denials of climate change and environmental science, the next generation will make sure to solve the myriad problems they've been saddled with.

Movie Details

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