Rensselaer’s nonprofit science program for children—The Molecularium® Project—recently announced the availability of its Giant Screen film Molecules to the MAX! on DVD and Blu-ray. “The landscape of what a ‘classroom’ looks like is rapidly changing and the Molecularium Project’s free online classroom and resources continue to help science teachers keep STEM alive, despite budget cuts in schools across the country and the changing dynamics in the classroom,” said Linda Schadler, vice provost and dean for undergraduate education and one of three executive producers of the Molecularium Project.
Molecules to the MAX!, an animated 42-minute Giant Screen film, is showing around the globe on select IMAX screens and is available in Spanish, Chinese, Arabic, and Japanese. The film will also be aired on PBS affiliate WMHT-TV in New York, once daily, November 30-December 4.
In addition to Molecules to the MAX!, the project’s educational media include NanoSpace®, winner of the Center for Digital Education 2013 Best of the Web award, an online educational amusement park, which includes more than 25 interactive and educational games, short animated films and activities, and the Digital Dome film Molecularium—Riding Snowflakes, a 23-minute, award-winning show that introduced characters Oxy, Carbón, Hydra, and Mel.
“Teachers are discovering that the films, video, and online games like BuildEm!, Periodic Memory, and microLAB are engaging students and demystify science,” said Richard W. Siegel, founding director of the Rensselaer Nanotechnology Center and one of the executive producers of the Molecularium Project. “We are thrilled with the positive feedback from students and teachers and that National Science Teachers Association chapters across the U.S. are supporting our project. We encourage those educators who are not familiar with our project to introduce Molecules to the MAX! in the classroom.”
In addition to Schadler and Siegel, Shekhar Garde, dean of engineering and the Elaine and Jack S. Parker Professor, is the third executive producer of the films.
In the film, children learn about the basic atomic structures of everyday items, such as snowflakes, pennies, and chewing gum, as the Molecules to the MAX! characters fly through nanospace. Oxy, captain of the Molecularium, is dispatched from the Unified Field of Atoms on an expedition to discover the secret of life on Earth. Along with her crew—Hydra and Hydro, the curious hydrogen twins, and Mel, the uptight computer—they have many misadventures exploring the Earth’s atmosphere and the cycle of water molecules, through clouds, snowflakes, and raindrops, and various materials.
“One of my favorite things about Molecules to the MAX! is it’s getting kids excited about science. Science literacy is not a huge focus in the education system in America today and it is one content area where kids of any ability range, at any age, can connect; they put their hands on things, they see things, they move, and it’s the reason why our world is here,” said Lahnna Addington, an eighth-grade science teacher at Cameron Elementary in Chicago, Illinois.
In addition to the film, the DVD and Blu-ray discs include bonus features, including behind-the-scenes commentary on the making of the movie, five educational animated shorts from NanoSpace, and a glimpse of the award-winning film Riding Snowflakes. The DVD and Blu-ray discs also include the surround sound tracks in all five languages.
This result of the Molecularium Project’s unique collaboration of materials and computer scientists, chemical engineers, artists, actors, animators, filmmakers, musicians, and songwriters reflects the creative approach to science education in Molecules to the MAX! Catering to parents, teachers, and homeschoolers, free educator resources for grades K-4 and 5-8 are also available on the website at www.molecularium.com.