This school year, I am mentoring a class with homeschooled teens ages 15-17. It’s the QUEST LEMI Scholar Project. I love finding movies to help the youth see people following their dreams in a way that uses scholar skills. This movie was perfect for that! If you haven’t seen it, go watch it! We decided to watch it for a family movie night. It does have a bunch of swear words, reflective of the story’s setting, a coal-mining town. So watch with Clear Play or, here’s my DIY version of Clear Play: Just Google the script, then have it handy on your phone or tablet, read ahead, and be ready to mute the swear words. That’s what I did. It’s just so much easier to repeat those words when we hear them repeatedly so I choose to mute them.
This movie is based on the true story of Homer Hickam, Jr. who was a young man in the 1950s and 60s. He dreamed of becoming a rocket scientist, even though nobody in his small town of Coalwood West Virginia had never done that. I love how he fights for his dream and succeeds!
Here are some discussion questions:
- Who is Dr. Werner Von Braun? He is mentioned early in the movie. Who is someone in your area of interest that you admire and why?
- In the movie, Homer often writes letters to Dr. Von Braun. Have you ever thought of writing a letter to someone famous to talk about your challenges and who would it be? Do you think writing these letters helped Homer?
- Homer’s father tells Homer not to fire any more rockets on company property. So Homer honors his father by obeying that instruction. Then Homer finds a way to continue to fire rockets without disobeying his father. Have your parents ever given you instruction that you disagreed with because you felt they didn’t understand your dream? Have you found a way to honor them and continue to follow your dream?
- Homer walks 8 miles to get to a place that’s not company property so he can obey his father’s direction. What distances have you gone to continue to follow your dream?
- Homer realizes he doesn’t know enough math and science to make a rocket. He decides to befriend the class nerd to learn more, even though his friends tell him that befriending the nerd will mean “kissing his social life goodbye.” Were his friends correct? Has there been a time when you refused to listen to your friends and did something you knew would help you pursue your dream? What was the result?
- Homer’s father has a different dream for Homer than Homer has for himself. Have any of you experienced having different dreams than your parents?
- Homer takes railroad property and it appears that he has no negative consequence. What do you think about that? Did he end up having a negative consequence?
- Homer’s mother intervenes to help Homer get a stolen part for his science fair display. Can you think of other times in literature, including scriptures, or other history when a mother has intervened to help her child? How has your mother intervened to help you? Are you even aware of all the times your mother has intervened to help you? (Go ask her. 😉 )
- Rockets and space craft were new for the people in Homer’s day. What current inventions are being developed right now that interest you and why?
- Homer and his friends are accused of starting a forest fire. They end up exonerating themselves because of their knowledge of math. Has there been a time when using your brains got you out of trouble?
- What is the first thing that Homer does after he wins the science fair? Who can you give thanks to for helping you on your journey to success?
- What is your big dream? What would you do if you knew you could?