By Rital Miller and Joslyn Stamp
The winner of the Oscars Best Animated Feature Film of the Year, Big Hero 6, features a teenage robotics prodigy Hiro Hamada and his adventures to win the San Fransokyo University of Technology’s convention to join his older brother Tadashi. At just 14, Hiro goes downtown to an illegal robotics fighting competition to earn money but his older brother, Tadashi, wants him to use his talents and join his university. With conviction, Hiro enters the convention competition with his invention of microbots, which can be controlled telepathically, to get selected for the school. But disaster strikes when a fire starts during the convention leading to the death of his older brother Tadashi. With Tadashi leaving behind his newest invention he was been working on, a personal healthcare companion named Baymax, Hiro and his friends from the San Fransokyo University Of Technology transform themselves into high-tech superheroes to uncover the truth about supervillain Yokai and his plan to use Hiro’s microbots.
For our rating of the movie, we think this movie is great for showing younger audiences different STEM activities, like robotics. We love how diverse and relatable each character is. Each character has their own skill sets and specific STEM job which is shown throughout the movie. Honey Lemon is a chemist, Wasabi works with lasers, and Go Go Tomago works on mechanics with modern transportation. Even Fred, who doesn't have a particular field he is interested in, still advocated for STEM as we do through Legislative Advocacy Conferences at JuSTEMagine. All these specific careers are all great to pursue since you can tie it to multiple fields. For example, Honey Lemon can work in a medical lab, and Go Go can work for a transportation company. Hiro expands his love for robots by fighting them for the greater good by using his talents to help the world. This shows the audience how STEM education expands students' learning for the greater good. The character that resonated the most with us was Honey Lemon. Honey Lemon and Go Go Tomago are great examples of females in STEM. We would recommend that kids ages 6-10 watch Big Hero 6 because the movie's fun-loving characters and humor can heavily appeal to younger audiences. In younger audiences, it can be hard to deal with death, so we do not recommend anybody under the age of 5 to watch the movie.
Although Hiro is very intelligent on his own, he used collaboration with his friends and other STEM teammates: Baymax, Fred, Wasabi, Honey Lemon, and Go Go Tomago. They used their different inventions to take down Yokai together. This represents social and emotional learning. After the loss of Hiro’s brother, Tadashi, he closed himself off and had no motivation to go to school or continue his favorite hobbies. But with Baymax’s help, he gets out of the house and contacts his friends to help him. Baymax even said while they were flying over San Fransokyo that his neurotransmitter levels increased since he was inventing and doing things he loved. With the help of his friends, he became truly empowered to work for the greater good.
Another example of his friends helping Hiro is when he made the superhero upgrades for the team. Although he thought it would work out and they would easily beat Yokai, the upgrades failed the first time the team battled Yokai. Discouraged, his friends didn’t let him hang his head down and they went to battle Yokai and find out his true identity. In STEM, a common occurrence is perseverance and finding an efficient way to try again. A good example of this is Tadashi making Baymax. When Baymax was created, Tadashi tried 83 times with building, programming, and testing Baymax before Baymax got to the point he is now. Tadashi tells Hiro “When you get stuck, look at the problem from a different angle”.
Big Hero 6 is truly a great movie filled with STEM and SEL. The characters were unique and diverse, expressing different interests. Big Hero 6 shows kids that anyone can be in STEM no matter their sex, race, or interests. Although this movie has a target audience of a younger age group, we think all grandparents, parents, teachers, and anyone else who finds a passion for STEM would enjoy this movie.