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STEM Movie Spotlight: Big Hero 6

By: Rital Miller & Joslyn Stamp

The Oscar-winning 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 had been working on, a personal healthcare companion named Baymax, Hiro and his friends from 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 my rating of the movie, I think this movie is a great movie to show STEM activities more specifically robotics to younger audiences. I love how each character is different so everyone has at least one person that they can relate to. Each character has its own skill set in STEM that shows the different jobs 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 at JuSTEMagine. All these specific careers are great to pursue since you can tie them 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 with me was Honey Lemon. Honey Lemon and Go Go Tomago are great examples of females in STEM. I’d recommend that kids 6-10 watch this 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 I would not recommend any child under the age of 5 to watch the film.

      Although Hiro is very intelligent on his own, he collaborates with his friends and other STEM teammates like Baymax, Fred, Wasabi, Honey Lemon, and Go Go Tomago. Together they brought their inventions to take down Yokai. 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 makes the superhero upgrades for the team. Although he thought it would work out and they would easily beat Yokai, they failed the first time they battled him. Discouraged, his friends didn’t let him hang his head down and they went to battle him 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 to build, program, and test 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 themselves show 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, and who enjoy STEM would enjoy this movie.

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