Teenagers are often boxed into social media scrolls and trending TikToks, but National Geographic’s “Science Fair: The Series” showcases the brilliance and determination of young minds aiming to tackle some of the world’s most pressing challenges. This series isn’t just a showcase of intelligence; it’s a heartfelt journey into the lives of students who are reshaping the future, one experiment at a time.
The inspiration behind this enthralling series springs from the Sundance Festival favorite and SXSW Audience Award-winning documentary directed by Cristina Costantini and Darren Foster. The documentary’s spirit is carried forward as viewers are taken on a ride through the trials and triumphs of a group of extraordinary students competing for a spot at the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) — an event often dubbed the “Olympics of science fairs.”
Nat Geo shared this exclusive trailer for the series:
Innovation and Ingenuity
At ISEF, brilliance is a baseline. The students featured in “Science Fair: The Series” are not just smart; they’re innovators, problem-solvers, and relentless in their pursuit of excellence. They tackle issues that resonate with our times — from sustainable fuel production and teen suicide prevention to the creation of more efficient motors that could revolutionize the electric vehicle industry.
But the series is more than just science and competition. It’s a coming-of-age tale where characters grow before our eyes, not just intellectually but emotionally. We see Memory from Harare, Zimbabwe, whose quest for sustainable fuel production is as much a scientific endeavor as it is a heartfelt yearning to improve the lives in her country. Then there’s the team of Endrick and Savidel from San Juan, Puerto Rico, who channel personal tragedy into innovation, creating a device to monitor wound care and prevent infections.
Robert, a young tinkerer from Port St. Lucie, Florida, illustrates the quintessential spirit of American ingenuity by constructing an alternative electric motor that circumvents the use of rare and costly materials. Erin from Merritt Island, Florida, and Chloe from Monte Vista, Colorado, throw themselves into environmental science, with projects aimed at protecting underwater biomes and finding solutions to plastic pollution, respectively.
Making a Difference
The series does not overlook the importance of community and support systems. We meet families and teachers who are the unsung heroes behind these young luminaries. Dr. Serena McCalla returns as a fan favorite, embodying the passion and commitment of educators who guide these students.
It’s clear that “Science Fair: The Series” is about more than just winning; it’s about making a difference. Carolos, also from Monte Vista, is a testament to this as he experiments with fungus to increase crop yield, directly impacting farming communities like his own. Marissa, another Monte Vista resident, dedicates her research to protecting the endangered South Western Willow Flycatcher, a cause that speaks to the hearts of conservationists.
Social issues also find a spotlight. Olivia from Saginaw, Michigan, challenges gender norms in sports, while Natasha from Jericho, New York, turns personal tragedy into a beacon of hope with her project on adolescent suicide prevention. Complementing this spectrum of research is Kevin, also from Jericho, whose complex genetic research into cancer epitomizes the series’ blend of high-level science with human-centric stories.
Inspiring Change through Science
“Science Fair: The Series” is an anthology of inspiration. It’s a narrative that champions the spirit of science and innovation, but more importantly, it’s a celebration of youthful tenacity and the belief that even the youngest among us can change the world. As we witness these students uplift one another despite the competition, we’re reminded that at the heart of innovation lies not just knowledge, but empathy and collaboration.
This series is a must-watch for anyone who believes in the power of science and the potential of the next generation. It’s a clarion call to support and invest in young minds — because as “Science Fair: The Series” vividly illustrates, these students aren’t just preparing for the future; they’re already here, rolling up their sleeves, ready to make a lasting impact. All episodes premiere December 10 starting at 8pm Eastern on National Geographic, and will be available to stream the next day on Disney+ and Hulu.