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Whiz Kids - Movie Review of Whiz Kids (2009)

Competition and Ambition Bring Talent To The Fore

About.com Rating 3.5 Star Rating


Whiz Kids - Movie Review of Whiz Kids (2009)

Kelydra Welcker works on science project in Whiz Kids

Shadow Distribution
In following three teenagers who excel in their high school science research projects, Whiz Kids shows how individual initiatives can bring tremendous rewards to talented students, and also focuses the spotlight on how America's system of education, which encourages competition, has fallen behind other nations in student achievement rankings.

Kids Represent America's Competitive Edge

There can be little doubt that competition is at the core of contemporary American culture. It dominates our electoral and legislative processes, at the stock market, on TV in game and reality shows and at the ballpark. And, it plays a big role in our educational system. Children are taught from the time they're tots that being competitive garners glory, remuneration, fame and other sorts of rewards. America glories in competition.

The American educational system, however, seems to have been failing to compete successfully with its counterparts in other nations. In current rankings, American students have fallen behind children who've been educated in Asian and European countries, in all areas of study -- and especially in science.

Whiz Kids follows three exceptionally bright and dedicated seventeen year old students who are, through their own initiative and experimentation, sharpening America's competitive edge in the area of science education. Coming from vastly varied backgrounds and working on diverse and fascinating research projects, they are competing to win the Intel Science Talent Search. Known as the junior Nobel Prize, the contest is America's oldest and most prestigious science competition.

Three Exceptionally Talented Students

Whiz Kids - Harmain Khan, Ana Cisneros Cisneros, Kelydra Welcker

Shadow Distribution
Whiz Kids is the coming-of-age story of three determined teenagers.

Kelydra Welcker hails from Parkersburg, West Virginia, where she has become a local environmental activist through her research on a contaminant (a byproduct of Teflon) that is being dumped into the Ohio River by the area’s largest employer. Ana Cisneros Cisneros, the daughter of Ecuadorians who came to the U.S. in search of a better life for their family, has already brought pride to her parents by being recognized as the leader of her Long Island, New York, high school's science research program. Harmain Khan, whose family emigrated from Pakistan when he was a toddler, and subsisted on food stamps and recycled aluminum cans, has made a groundbreaking discovery in paleontology that promises him a significant career.

The contest, formerly sponsored by Westinghouse, is know known as the Intel Science Talent Search, and has more than 2,000 students competing for prizes totaling $1.5 million. In the finals, forty students travel to Washington, D.C. to present their research to top scientists and vie for the $100,000 grand prize.

Science, Suspense and social Relevance

Whiz Kids keeps you in suspense about who will be awarded the grand prize, but it's also clear that these kids are all winners. The film is also a fascinating study of how class and cultural heritage have influenced these kids, and how they've responded to the American credo of equal opportunity -- to compete. And win.

If You Like This Film, You May Also Like

Film Details:

Whiz Kids (2009)

  • Directed by: Tom Shepard with Tina DiFeliciantonio
  • Running Time: 82 min.
  • Release Date: June 4, 2010 (limited theatrical)
  • Parents Guide: Advisory for content
  • Distributors: Shadow Distribution
  • Trailer
A screnner of this documentary was provided for review.
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