IMAX film inspires students to dream big

Priscilla Daniel sits in a large meeting area at the Ontario Science Centre. She’s just had an unexpected movie experience.

“I thought we were just going to watch a movie,” she said, “but it was more than a movie. This was an experience.”

Shronak Datta saw the same movie. It explored an unusual aspect of engineering.

“Engineering is often too closely associated with economics,” he said. “The movie focused away from that and focused on how engineering is a method of problem-solving in society. That really resonated with me.”

The two 17-year-olds both attend the Ontario Science Centre’s Science School. They’re just viewed the IMAX film “Dream Big: Engineering Our World,” a 40-minute film that explores the possibility of engineering by using nature as inspiration for innovation. Daniel and Datta are among 235 elementary and high school students who viewed a premier of the film on Feb. 16.

“I felt like I just witnessed the beauty of engineering products and how innovation is really rooted in simple solutions,” Daniel said.

At the premier, film creator and engineer Steve Burrows spoke to Grade 7-12 students from Ontario Science Centre Science School, Don Mills Collegiate Institute and Valley Park Middle School.

He echoes Priscilla Daniel’s perception of science.

“Currently, one of the biggest things that is inspiring engineers is nature,” he said. “We’re finding that nature solves problems.”

Burrows used an example of designing buildings similar to the way termites build their mounds. Inside, the mound is cooler than outside and the film shows buildings engineered to mimic the same properties.

“Every time we examine nature, we learn something new,” Burrows said.

For the young to be successful engineers, Burrows noted a change in his field. He suggested that creative designers don’t have to be degreed engineers. He says he has a team of psychologists, biologists, artists and people who study plants and animals on his design team.

“What you really need to be an engineer is a passion to design the future,” he said.

Daniel said that she is grateful to be at the Science School because every day is a surprise to her.

“I felt like I just travelled the world,” she said. “The whole IMAX experience really puts you there.”