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STEM Movie Spotlight: Back to the Future

By: Rital Miller & Joslyn Stamp

Academy awarding-winning blockbuster, Back to the Future, directed by Robert Zemeckis, is a timeless classic that seamlessly integrates STEM  concepts with Social-Emotional Learning themes. Back to the Future explores how the movie incorporates STEM and SEL elements, empowers the next generation, presents new perspectives, addresses SEL-related problems, highlights SEL careers, and offers an age-appropriate rating.

     Back to the Future intricately weaves STEM concepts throughout its narrative. From the invention of the DeLorean time machine to the explanations of time travel theories by the eccentric scientist, Doc Brown, the film sparks shows science and technology. Tthe film portrays the application of engineering principles in constructing the time machine, showcasing the importance of innovation and problem-solving in STEM fields. Back to the Future offers glimpses of potential SEL careers, particularly in the fields of science, technology, and psychology. The character of Doc Brown embodies the spirit of a passionate inventor and researcher, inspiring viewers to consider pursuing careers in STEM disciplines. A field that can be pursued is engineering, especially aerospace where your work on pushing the limits of science.

     The movie also delves into various SEL aspects. Marty McFly's journey through time allows him to confront issues of identity, belonging, and relationships. His interactions with his parents in different time periods highlight the importance of empathy and understanding in building meaningful connections. Additionally, Marty's mentorship with Doc Brown demonstrates the value of collaboration and emotional support in achieving goals. While Back to the Future offers a fictional portrayal of SEL themes, it captures human emotions and interpersonal dynamics. Marty's experiences resonate with universal struggles faced by other teenagers, such as peer pressure. Though exaggerated for cinematic effect, the movie's portrayal of SEL elements remains relatable and thought-provoking. Throughout the film, characters navigate various SEL-related challenges and conflicts. Marty learns to confront his fears and assert himself in unfamiliar situations, ultimately finding the courage to stand up for what he believes in. Doc Brown, meanwhile, grapples with the implications of altering the course of history, highlighting the complexities of decision-making and moral responsibility.

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