Scientific documentaries are facing a real challenge in drawing an audience that is not already committed to caring for science. Finding new ways to say "You should really see this, it's not just about science". It is often a struggle.
Science Fair is a rare entry in the category because its human elements are so obvious. Collaboration, competition, obstacles to be overcome, and the ultimate high-stakes denouement. Man is at the forefront so often that it's easy to forget that the film is about science. In fact, all the basic human issues are almost unclear what the movie really is about: Teenagers in adulthood throw through a world that often does not know what to do with them, but they find their people ̵
1; they relate the spirits they can finally feel at home with.
The movie is fun, emotional and touched, with a universal theme that just happens to have science as a background. And that's really, very good.
The science class in my youth often contained children who struggled to come up with monitors that actually did something like baked-powered volcanoes. But the competition at the center of Science Fair – Intel International Science and Engineering Fair – is closer to what I did as a graduate student. The trials are too complex and require too much replication to make sense to do in front of an audience. Instead, the data is analyzed and posted on a poster, and the experiment (s) speaks people through the details.
If the children succeed at regional competitions, they earn the right to go to the finals. The week-long competition is assessed by researchers and draws competitors from dozens of countries. It's a bit like a scientific Olympiad, except that in addition to awarding winners and placements in various disciplines, a single research project will be appointed to the overall winner each year.