Are your children interested in math and engineering? Well, if you want to help nourish that interest, show them movies that involve math and engineering. Listed below are some great movies that feature math and engineering that will be great for your kids to watch.
1. Little Man Tate (1991)
Little Man Tate is a family drama film that was directed by Jodie Foster. The story depicts a single mother, Dede Tate, who is raising her seven-year-old son, Fred. Soon, Fred begins to show that he is a genius in mathematics and music, which isolates him from his classmates.
Fred’s abilities catch the attention of a former prodigy, Jane Grierson, who seeks to bring Fred to the school for gifted children where she works. The movie continues to follow Fred and how he adjusts to being gifted and finds his place in society.
While it is the oldest movie on the list, it is a great one to help students understand that it is okay to be different as well as help students understand some math concepts. The only section of the movie for parents or teachers to worry about is a scene with kissing that is implied to lead to sex. (Source)
2. Appolo 13 (1995)
This movie is a space-themed docudrama that dramatized the 1970 Apollo 13 missions that were abandoned and also is an adaption of Lost Moon: The Perilous Voyage of Apollo 13. The movie depicts an Apollo 13 NASA crew featuring Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon, Bill Paxton, Ed Harris, and Gary Sinise.
The movie sees the crew prepare to try and land on the moon, but quickly a disaster strikes as part of their craft explodes. They never land on the moon, rather we watch as the crew takes steps to try to safely return to Earth despite freezing conditions, a damaged craft, and even a possibly broken heat shield.
This makes for a great movie to show both the dangers of space along with how those who are creative and know how things work can survive. A concern for parents or teachers can be the high amount of swear words, but it is overall a great movie for those who are interested in space, NASA, engineering, or history. (Source)
3. October Sky (1999)
Rating: PG (There is some mild cussing, a drunk person, and angry family relationships shown)
This is a great movie depiction of a coal miner’s son, Homer H. Hickman Jr., who takes up rocketry against the wishes of his father and eventually becomes a NASA engineer. The movie starts when the news of the Soviet Union’s Sputnik 1 reaches Hickman’s hometown of Coalwood, West Virginia.
After seeing the satellite in the sky, Hickman is inspired to build his own rock hoping that it will help him escape his fate of working in the nearby coal mines. Hickman partners with Quentin Wilson to build their own rockets. The movie then depicts the group’s attempts to build their rocket and the struggle they have within their families as the parents all are strongly against their attempts.
This is a great family movie that depicts many different engineering principles, the biggest being persistence. There is a small amount of language and some injuries/death from coal mine accidents, but for the most part, this is a great movie for kids of any age to watch. (Source)
4. A Beautiful Mind (2001)
This movie is a true story drama about John Forbes Nash Jr. and his life from college to his death. The story starts by showing Nash at Princeton, where he shows great talent for math and develops the Nash equilibrium, which earns him an appointment at MIT.
While at MIT, Nash begins working at the Pentagon, helping decode enemy telecommunications. Eventually, due to being near a shootout, Nash develops several mental illnesses, including schizophrenia.
The movie shows how Nash eventually overcomes the illness while still having hallucinations, manages to ignore them, and eventually earns the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences.
This is a great movie that shows both great persistence, resilience, and many other mathematic principles. However, it is rated PG-13. This is due to mild sex/nudity scenes, a fair amount of violence, a small amount of gore, swearing, and some alcohol and smoking. Despite these, it is a great movie with many important messages for youth and adults alike. (Source)
5. Moneyball (2011)
Based on a true story, this movie is centered around the Oakland Athletics baseball team and its general manager Billy Bean. After the Oakland A’s lost to the New York Yankees in the 2001 American League Division series, the A’s lost several of their star players.
While looking for different trades, Bean meets a young Yale graduate Peter Brand, who uses different analytics to find good players. Together, the two put together a team that begins to set records, despite the players being thought of as weak and the money struggles that the team faces.
This is a very fun movie for sports fans as also teaches how different statistics can be used to learn new information. For parents or teachers who are concerned by the PG-13 rating, it is mostly for the number of obscenities throughout the movie, along with a few scenes with alcohol and tobacco. (Source)
6. Underwater Dreams (2014)
Rating: N/A (Documentary)
This is a documentary by Mary Mizzio that shares the story of how the sons of undocumented immigrants from Mexico try to build an underwater robot. While doing so, they enter a competition that eventually gets them to a point where they are facing even MIT students.
The four boys are from the small school of Carl Hayden High School in Pheonix, AZ. While at the school, they enter the Marine Advanced Technology Education (MATE) Center’s annual International ROV competition. From there, they continue until they are facing people from schools all across the United States.
This is a great documentary about how you can build whatever you want even if you don’t have the nicest equipment. Since it is a documentary, it isn’t rated, but this is a great movie for kids of any age. (Source)
7. The Lego Movie (2014)
If you haven’t heard or seen this fun, cute movie yet, then I would be quite surprised. This movie follows a lego character Emmet as he finds “The Piece of Resistance” and then explores several lego worlds to help save the world from The Kragle and President Business.
The movie sees character building from the lego pieces very often and eventually, Emmet, who hadn’t been able to build anything original, finds his creativity.
This is a very positive, feel-good family movie that talks about how everyone can be special, and that we all have our own style. Legos are great tools for any future engineer as it allows them to build. This is a great movie for children of any age. (Source)
8. Big Hero 6 (2014)
This movie follows Hiro Hamada, a 14-year-old genius who begins to go to the nearby college which excels in the science/engineering department. After making nanobots and presenting them as his project that would allow him to be enrolled in this college, which his brother already attends, an accident occurs, which results in the loss of the bots and his brother’s life, as he rushed in to save people still in the burning building.
We then follow Hiro and other scientists from the school as they try to find out what happened and who was behind it all. With help from their inventions and Baymax, an inflatable healthcare robot, they become superheroes.
This is another very fun, family-friendly movie that teaches many important life lessons and shows some of the processes that it takes in order to invent and create different science projects. Being a superhero movie there are some fighting scenes, but the movie is great for kids of every age. (Source)
9. Theory of Everything (2014)
The Theory of Everything is a movie based on the life of Dr. Stephen Hawking. The Movie starts from the time when Hawking is a student at Cambridge University and covers much of his schooling and how he met his wife.
The movie focuses on him trying to understand the time and earn his doctorate, while also struggling with a motor neuron disease and pneumonia. We see him have a family, continue to study, and write his famous book, A Brief History in Time.
This is a great movie that has a lot of science and explains Hawking’s different studies, so it is great for older kids to watch It does have some gore during a surgery that is performed on Hawking and some profanity, but overall, it is a great move for most kids. (Source)
10. The Martian (2015)
Based on The Martian, this movie follows botanist/engineer Mark Watney as he is accidentally stranded on Mars during a severe dust storm. We get to see how Mark uses the little resources he has left to survive for more than 543 days.
He is forced to use both engineering and botany skills in order to survive, growing plants, salvaging parts from old rovers, and more in order to survive until a ship can retrieve him and bring him back to Earth.
This movie is great for any kid who wants to become an engineer, as both Mark and NASA engineers explain most of the processes. There are some things that make it PG-13 like a scene where Mark is nude and we see the whole of his backside, a lot of profanity, and a small amount of gore from a wound. (Source)
11. The Man Who Knew Infinity (2015)
This is a drama film about the Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan and is based on the book, The Man Who Knew Infinity. The movie shows how Ramanujan goes from poverty and working menial jobs in Madras, India to eventually attending Cambridge University.
We see Ramanujan leave his family to pursue the chance for education and see him experience difficulties due to his race. We see the many struggles he faces and eventually the end of his life at a young 32 years old due to his poor living conditions throughout his life.
This is a great movie that shows many important math principles and is a good story about working hard to succeed. It has a PG-13 rating due to war scenes that are throughout the movie, but there isn’t much profanity, violence, or sex/nudity. (Source)
12. Hidden Figures (2016)
This is a biographical drama that is about the African American females who worked for NASA during the Space Race in 1961. We follow Katherine Johnson, Mary Jackson, and Dorothy Vaughan as they work at NASA during a time when they were discriminated against for both their sex and race.
Despite the discrimination, the three all play vital roles in helping arrange John Glenn’s launch into space and the first-ever moon landing.
This is an amazing movie for students as it teaches history, racial history, math, and engineering. Despite being centered around racism, the movie features no violence, has only a few swear words, and is a good family movie for children of almost every age. (Source)
13. Dream Big: Engineering Our World (2017)
This movie is a very good, short documentary about many different aspects of modern engineering and its significance. It talks about different engineering feats from space travel, and buildings to undersea exploration and makes a great documentary for any student interested in engineering. This movie was made for students. (Source)
Where to find it: YouTube ($2.99)