Parents' Guide to

Science Fair

By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 8+

Compelling, entertaining docu about teen science geniuses.

Movie PG 2018 90 minutes
Science Fair Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

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

Community Reviews

age 7+

Based on 3 parent reviews

age 7+

Compelling engaging story

Two adults and one 9-year-old LOVED this documentary! Child says they would watch it again, and that it was exciting but not scary - it’s ok to watch before bed without nightmares. Any age child could be exposed to this documentary, while those younger than 7 just may not be interested.
age 7+

Great for family movie night!

Right from the start engaged all 4 kids (age 10-21), even the ones who initially rolled their eyes about watching a documentary. Wonderfully diverse, interesting characters. Super inspiring. Lots of funny moments as well as poignant ones. We were all rooting for them. My 10-year old went to bed saying she couldn't wait to enter a science fair now. Everyone should watch this!

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say: (3 ):
Kids say: Not yet rated

This fascinating, inspiring documentary about brilliant teens competing in the Olympics of science fairs should be mandatory viewing for all young students. This is the second documentary (after Inventing Tomorrow) released in 2018 about the illustrious international science competition, and it's just as riveting. Taking a more domestic focus, Science Fair showcases students from across the country (as well as Germany and Brazil), some of whom definitely aren't lacking in confidence or ego (e.g., the 14-year-old junior who waxes poetic about how jealous others are of her many talents and gifts). But her self-possession is well-earned, because the students featured in the film are all intellectual outliers. (Plus, her male classmates, a fun and opposites-attract trio of personalities, provide the documentary with comic relief.)

Myllena and Gabriel, who hail from Brazil, are wonderful examples of how even underprivileged kids from the developing world can have a huge impact on the sciences. Their work on a Zika cure is an amazing pharmaceutical discovery. German student Ivo is middle-class, and his project about an improved flying wing is a remarkable aviation innovation. Then there's Kashfia, a hijab-wearing Muslim teen from South Dakota who's all but invisible in her large, sports-dominated high school. Despite qualifying for ISEF before, her school hasn't even acknowledged her with a public announcement, much less the fanfare reserved for athletic teams (even those with losing records). Her neuroscience project about the adolescent brain is, like all the others, an impressive achievement. A Jericho, New York, high school sends several students, all of whom are the children of immigrants, to ISEF. Their teacher/adviser, Dr. McCall, is the kind of superstar educator students remember forever. Not all of the featured entrants "place" or earn awards, but they all move on to bigger and better prospects and reinforce the necessity of stronger STEM education in the United States.

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