California School of the Arts

‘Science Fair’ — The future of science lies in the hands of the world’s teenagers

Directed by Cristina Costantini and Darren Foster, documentary “Science Fair” tracks nine high school students from spread out corners of the globe as they work their way through the ranks to win the international science fair. Only one person will walk away named “Best in Fair” with a $75,000 award. With teens who fight viruses, prevent cancer, or even create an AI that raps like Kanye West, the film mixes humor with heart to present the inventors and creators of not only tomorrow, but today.

The film transports us all over the world in segments that introduce our students one-by-one. It is incredible to see the bright minds of students my age developing technology and gathering research that I could never fathom. The directors did a fantastic job of going in depth into a student’s life and background; they created connections with each person and give us an inside look on what it’s like to participate in the science fair.

screen shot 2018 01 17 at 3 06 43 pm Science Fair — The future of science lies in the hands of the worlds teenagers
The trio Harsha, Abraham and Ryan at Intel ISEF presenting their project in a still from documentary “Science Fair” (Photo courtesy of National Geographic’s “Science Fair”)

The documentary looks into the lives of a poverty ridden Brazilian town to a cool-riding German teenager who has been invested in planes and aeronautics his whole life. One of the students, Kashfia, a shy Muslim girl who attends Kentucky-based DuPont Manual, somehow convinced her football coach to sponsor her project. Funnily enough, the school’s top priority is sports despite the local football team’s 0-9 record.

Not only are students documented, but teachers as well. One teacher from Jericho High School is shown pushing her students to the best of their ability, resulting in seven students attending the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF) and six of them placing 4th to 1st place in their categories.

The ideas of teenagers around the world seem so farfetched in concept, but this movie brings those ideas to life. It tells the story of an event that many people may not even realize exists, and also sparks inspiration and hope in the hearts of the audience. As a high school student, we don’t really realize what we are totally capable of. Watching this film, it’s clear to see that our world is constantly evolving; teenage scientists today are making groundbreaking discoveries that would not have been possible years ago.

The movie flows smoothly, although probably taken in different points of time; it correlates perfectly from scene to scene. “Science Fair” gives a great representation to the 6 million students that attempt to join ISEF every year and the 1,500 that are chosen. Science and engineering is a complicated field, but you can feel the passion and excitement in each one of the students throughout the documentary.

The cinematography makes it seem almost as if this were a TV show, or something scripted. I think it’s important to remember that these students exist and devote months or even years of their life to science. This film makes a clear point that they deserve the validation for their contributions to the field of science.

Robbie, a long-haired teenager with a love for programming and computers, said something that stuck with me after the film: “If you’re there just to win the prize, you’re missing the point of science fair.”

Overall, “Science Fair” is an impactful, eye-opening, inspirational film to help people recognize the teenage science geeks that probably hold the fate of our future in their hands.

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