9 Throwback TV Shows and Movies That Made STEM Cool

Nerds have historically gotten a bad rap. (Steve Urkel, anyone?) But thanks to videos like thisposters like this, and countless other champions of all things science, technology, engineering, and math, nerds — and STEM in general — have been looking pretty cool lately.

There’s a new Disney Junior show coming out on February 6th called Miles from Tomorrowland that tells the story of Miles, a child space adventurer exploring the galaxy with his robo-Ostrich. Featuring beloved guest stars like Bill Nye and George Takei, the kids show promises to be a level of awesome we haven’t seen since Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century. But now that I think of it, maybe Hollywood has always been Team Nerd — and therefore, Team STEM. A lot of our favorite shows from the past didn’t just make science and math accessible to kids, but fun. And we couldn’t be more on board. I mean, what better way to show girls that it’s hip to be down with science than Alex Mack rocking her telekinesis? Or Dana Scully saving the world from alien domination? Let’s examine the evidence and take a trip down memory lane …

Smart House


How do you know you’re a ’90s kid? You still dream of being able to tell your talking house you want pancakes … and have them appear before you instantly. It’s the stuff dreams are made of — and all the motivation we needed to attempt programming our computers to control our house. (20+ years later, still not happening. But at least we tried.)

Back to the Future


BRB getting into our DeLoreans and gunning it to 88.

Honey, I Shrunk the Kids


Another late-’80s cinematic classic, Rick Moranis made us all wish we had a zany inventor for a father. (Who hasn’t wanted to ride an ant or eat an oatmeal cream-pie the size of a house?)

Confession: This author may or may not have been scared to walk on the lawn for weeks after seeing this movie for the first time.

The X-Files


Whether you were a believer like Fox Mulder or a skeptic like Dana Scully, watching them try to solve the unexplainable week after week was thrilling, to say the least. Are there aliens among us or can everything be answered by science? To each his own, but let’s just say that 13 years later, we’re still looking for the Mulder to our Scully.



Is there anything the late, great Robin Williams couldn’t make look cool? I mean, yes his invention wreaks havoc on his life and he misses every wedding ever, but in the end he gets the girl and floors it to Hawaii. So clearly, green goo FTW.

The Secret World of Alex Mack


No one has ever made getting nearly hit by a chemical truck and subsequently developing unexplainable supernatural powers look this good. A spider bite? So lame.



He’ll solve any crime illness by dinnertime — and he’ll insult you while doing it. But you know what? It’s always an awesome way to spend an hour. Because while he was solving the most unsolvable cases, the rest of us were totally inspired to go to medical school and cure the world of all its ills. Some of us did that. And some of us … are writing this post.

Doogie Howser, M.D.


Recently, a Florida teen posed as a gynecologist at a hospital and got away with it for a MONTH. In real life? Kind of horrifying (and totally embarrassing for the hospital that didn’t notice). But if you’re Doogie Howser, child prodigy and all-around unexpected dreamboat … it’s a good look for you.



Put a bunch of hot people on an island and throw in some weird supernatural stuff and BAM! we can’t look away for days on end. (This is a true story. Word to the wise: don’t expect to eat or use the bathroom for at least 8 hours if you decide to get your wisdom teeth out and binge-watch from the first season. It will not happen.)

While no, we’re still not ready to talk about that series finale … we are ready to discuss life on a much deeper level than we were before Lost came into our lives. Oh, and smoke monsters.

The Big Bang Theory


Okay, so this isn’t technically a throwback, but it’s just too good to leave off the list. Actress/girl-next-door Penny could have any guy she wants, but who does she fall for? Short, “Dungeons and Dragons”-loving Leonard. Plus, even Sheldon (the self-proclaimed “William Shatner of theoretical physics”) got the girl. Thanks to some seriously brilliant comedic writing, the Pennys of the world (myself included) laugh — and understand! — jokes on physics, Star Wars, and Steve Jobs.

So go on with your nerdy selves and embrace that left-side of your brain. As you can see, it’s the cool thing to do.

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Article Posted 5 years Ago

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