Laney Lee

Teaching Strategies x Uncategorized

Science Themed Movies to Show Your Middle Schoolers

Let’s be honest…students aren’t the only ones that enjoy a good ole’ fashioned movie day! Taking time out of our normal science class routine to watch a great movie is just as much fun for me as it is for my middle school students. Maybe you can relate? But which movie should you choose? Wouldn’t it be nice to have a high quality list of movies at your disposal?! I’ve got you covered, friend! If you’re upcoming lesson plans include a movie day or two, here are a few of my favorite science themed movies to show your middle schoolers!

Reasons to Show A Movie

Alright, first things first…our curriculums are full. I don’t know about you, but I routinely find myself feeling short on time. It goes without saying that every teacher has quite a bit of content to cover before the end of the school year. You may be wondering (or perhaps you’ve been asked by others) WHY on earth you would take time to show a movie in your science classroom? Isn’t that a waste of precious instructional time?

Absolutely not! Sure, you could go overboard. When it comes to showing movies in the classroom, it is definitely possible to have “too much of a good thing.” That being said, a great story, real world documentary, or science fiction film related to your subject matter could be exactly what your students need. Not convinced? Here are a few good reasons for middle school teachers to show movies in the classroom:

Support Learning Targets

Some of the best science movies can actually help reinforce the unit objectives you’ve been teaching. This can be especially helpful for the visual learners in the room who need to see science in action to truly understand it. No matter what science discipline you focus on, there are plenty of great educational movies to supplement your lessons.

Substitute Plans

Perhaps the most obvious time to pull out a movie is when you’ll have a substitute in the room. Whether it’s a planned absence or an unexpected sick day (hello cold and flu season) it’s helpful to have a few good substitute lesson ideas in your back pocket that are straightforward and easy to implement. Movies paired with some sort of written reflection or guided outline are a great way to fill the classroom time on a sub day.

Not sure what a video companion worksheet could look like? Here are some examples:

Break Between Units

After a jam-packed unit, everyone could use a break! Taking a day (or two) at the end of your instructional unit to watch a classic film will help your students to decompress and prepare for new learning in the upcoming unit. It also, conveniently, will give you as the teacher some time to grade tests or end of unit projects. See what I mean? It’s a “win-win.”

Incentive Reward

Students love rewards! (Heck, TEACHERS love rewards too!) Movies make a great incentive or reward for hard work or good behavior.

Best Science Themed Movies to Show Your Middle Schoolers

Movies come many genres and varieties. When you think of “science movies” – your mind might immediately jump to a documentary film like Planet Earth or something produced by PBS. Something nonfiction. Or maybe you’re more drawn to science biographies. On-screen adaptations of a particular scientist’s life. And then there’s a whole other category of science fiction movies that personally, I just LOVE.

Whatever you’re searching for, there is sure to be a movie to suit your needs and desires. Here are a few of my favorite science themed movies to show your middle schoolers:


Planet Earth

No science themed movie list would be complete without the docu-series, Planet Earth. This series highlights some of Earth’s most incredible wildlife, with each episode dedicated to a different type of habitat. If you teach life science, Planet Earth is one of the best movies you could ever show your students.

NOVA: The Planets

In this five episode docu-series, viewers are invited to explore the beauty and majesty of our solar system.

Based On A True Story

October Sky

Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, October Sky has to be one of my all time favorite movies. It tells the true story of NASA engineer, Homer H. Hickman, who was inspired by the Sputnik 1 launch to take up rocketry.

Hidden Figures

Hidden Figures is based on the lives of three African American female mathematicians who worked for NASA during the space race. Not only would this movie pair nicely with an astronomy unit, it could be a nice addition to your Black History month plans.

Apollo 13

Want another fantastic movie about outer space? Look no further! Starring Tom Hanks, this docudrama tells the story of the aborted 1970 Apollo 13 lunar space mission..

Spare Parts

If you are looking for an inspirational movie that will get your students dreaming of their own STEM-related achievements and aspirations, Spare Parts is the movie for you. This drama tells the story of four undocumented Mexican students who won first place (even beating MIT) in the MATE ROV Competition.

Temple Grandin

Temple Grandin tells the true story of an autistic woman with a gift for engineering, whose inventions have completely revolutionized the livestock industry.

Science Fiction

Meet the Robinsons

Meet the Robinsons is a lighthearted and silly animated film. This movie explores the concept of time travel and what life might be like in the future. I find this adorable movie makes a great reward or “brain break” between units.


If you teach about weather, Twister is a great film you’ll want to add to your list. Twister is an epic disaster film focused about storm chasers caught in the path of a tornado.


Who doesn’t love a good Pixar movie?! Wall-E is the tale of a robot encountering Earth after it has become totally uninhabitable. This movie is one of the best ways to begin a conversation about natural resources and how today’s environmental choices will affect future generations.

Journey to the Center of the Earth

This science fantasy movie focuses on a science professor and his nephew who, when trapped within a volcano, travel deeper and deeper towards Earth’s core. As they do, they encounter all sorts of different places and creatures that exist below Earth’s surface.

Young Einstein

This comedy focuses on the (imagined) young life of Albert Einstein. In this movie, Einstein makes new discoveries and finds himself in all sorts of hilarious and unusual situations.

The Lorax

Based on the classic children’s book by Dr. Seuss, The Lorax is a great movie for discussing climate change and the human impact on natural environments.


You truly can’t go wrong with a Robin Williams movie! This hilarious comedy is a great way to support instruction about the states of matter. It’s also a sure bet to get your middle schoolers laughing and enjoying their day in science class.

Swiss Family Robinson

Wait a minute…Swiss Family Robinson is a science movie? Sure is! This classic film is a great way to discuss simple machines and the engineering design process.

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