Monday, October 29, 2018

Science Fair

Directors Cristina Costantini and Darren Foster's documentary Science Fair takes a cross-section of students from across the world earning entries into Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. Including interviews from past winners to provide context for the prestigious event, the focus on the documentary are the students who competed for the top prize in 2017. Featuring interviews and documentary footage of winning individual science fairs to earn entry into ISEF, Science Fair is a compelling look at the top scientific high school minds taking their first step into a larger world.

While not all the subjects of the documentary will win, Costantini and Foster take care to showcase the intense dedication each has to their project (astounding work with real-world applications to help make the world a better place). The subjects range from teams from the most prestigious magnet school in the United States and the science teacher pushing her students to succeed, to entries from Brazil and Germany, and a shy young woman in South Dakota whose school is more concerned with their losing football team than her qualification for ISEF.

While the film doesn't delve too deeply into the science behind each project, a decision that helps free the narrative from getting bogged down in the minutiae that most adults aren't going to be able to understand, it instead focuses on the human element, the struggle to reach ISEF and the love of science and competition that delivers them to the biggest event of their young lives. Some face struggles to simply reach the competition, while others face added pressure after their projects get flagged just days before the judging is set to begin. The result is an uplifting and engaging film that should be shown in science classrooms all over the world.

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