12 Must-watch Math Movies For Middle School Students

Last Updated on October 3, 2023 by Editorial Team

Mathematics often has a reputation for being abstract, complex, and challenging for students. However, it is a subject that involves logic, solves problems, and finds its applications in real-time. To bring math to life and inspire middle school students, incorporating math-themed movies into the curriculum can be a powerful and engaging strategy.

By watching math movies, students are exposed to compelling stories that blend mathematical thinking with real-life experiences. They understand how critical thinking, problem-solving, and creativity are used in solving complex mathematical puzzles and mysteries. Moreover, these films help students develop a deeper appreciation for the beauty and relevance of mathematics beyond the classroom.

In the collection of math movies given below for middle school, students will explore the worlds of brilliant mathematicians, witness the application of math in different contexts, and gain a fresh perspective on the subject. These films aim to inspire curiosity, spark interest, and foster a positive attitude toward mathematics, making it more accessible, relatable, and enjoyable for middle school students.

Interesting & captivating math-based movies 

The following math-themed movies provide middle school students with opportunities to explore mathematical concepts, witness the real-world applications of math, and gain a deeper appreciation for the subject. Being one of the important tools and resources for visual learning, movies combine storytelling, emotion, and educational content to create an engaging cinematic experience that can inspire and motivate students in their mathematical journey.

1. Nova: the great math mystery

It is a documentary film that revolves around uncovering the mysteries of mathematics in terms of exposing viewers to its hidden patterns and connections to various aspects of our lives. It introduces and highlights the contributions of renowned mathematicians and scientists to the field. 

This movie can be a great fit for middle school as it breaks down complex mathematical concepts into digestible chunks and presents the information using real-world examples and realizations. It presents intriguing puzzles and unsolved problems that ignite curiosity and engage students in critical thinking.

2. The story of One

This is an educational and imaginative movie with a protagonist named Alex. He is transported to an imaginary world where numbers come to life. During this expedition, A number guide Numi becomes his mentor and together they explore different concepts and operations.

They discover how the number “One” represents unity and individuality, and forms the foundation of larger numbers. The movie takes viewers through entertaining puzzles, games, and challenges that captivate them and foster great learning. Through the narrative approach, this movie makes math learning fun and enjoyable.

3. A brilliant young mind

“X+Y” was released in the US as “A brilliant young mind”. It is a drama film based on the story of a brilliant teenage boy named “Nathan Ellis”. He struggles socially but has a deep connection with numbers. He gets a chance to represent the United Kingdom at the International Mathematics Olympiad (IMO).

The film takes viewers through his internal struggles and external challenges of connecting to his peers and forming meaningful relationships. He develops a friendship with a fellow competitor, Zhang Mei, a Chinese prodigy with her own struggles. The movie portrays math as something more than just formulas and equations. It focuses on hard work, determination, and practice to overcome challenges and find your true potential. 

4. Donald in Mathmagic Land

It is an educational animated film by Walt Disney Productions. In this, the Disney character “Donald Duck” is set on an expedition to explore mathematics. Initially, math seems to be boring and irrelevant to him but after he enters the Mathmagic land, he discovers mathematical concepts in various disciplines and practical application of math in the real world.

He encounters famous mathematicians who have contributed to the world of mathematics. The movie helps students understand that math is not an abstract and inaccessible subject. The movie inspires students to explore math beyond the classroom and fosters a positive growth mindset toward it.

5. Flatland

Based on the famous mathematical novel by Edwin A. Abbott, this animated film transports viewers to a two-dimensional world called Flatland. Through the protagonist, a square, the movie explores concepts of dimensions, perception, and social hierarchy, offering an imaginative take on mathematical thinking. While exploring, square encounters a “sphere” from “Spaceland, a three-dimensional world”.

Through this interaction, he embarks on self-discovery while understanding the existence of a higher dimension. This movie brings the abstract concepts of 2D and 3D to life and encourages students to think beyond what they can see. The moves take viewers through the various geometry concepts, stimulating curiosity and promoting abstract thinking.

6. The numberlys

Numberlys is an animated movie about the journey of five friends. They have their identity as different numbers. They feel they’re living in a factory-like environment that is monotonous and colorless. They would spend their days sorting and arranging numbers.

One day, one of the characters out of curiosity and imagination set out on a mission to create something new. As they explore, they discover letters and they start to transform themselves into letters finding the possibility of language and communication. This movie is great to introduce the concept of numbers and their role in our daily lives. It gives learners a glimpse of problem-solving and teamwork.

7. Hidden figures

The movie is about three African-American women who with their expert knowledge and mathematical skills contributed to NASA’s Space Program despite facing discrimination and racial segregation. The movie highlights the challenges and struggles of a woman living in a society that underestimates their abilities due to their race and gender.

The movie emphasizes the importance of equality and inclusivity. Besides showcasing this dark side of our society, the movie introduces the strong female mathematicians who excel in their fields. It also highlights the real-life applications of math concepts. 

8. Beautiful mind

This is a biographical movie on the life of the renowned mathematician “John Nash” who won the Nobel Prize in Economics for his commendable work in game theory. The movie revolves around his college days. He was an exceptionally brilliant student in mathematics due to which his professors assigned him to work on classified code-breaking projects for the U.S. government.

During this time, he experienced severe hallucinations and paranoia which was then diagnosed as schizophrenia. The movie then showcases his struggles in reconciling his mathematical genius with his illness. The movie serves as an inspiration for students encouraging them to explore the world of mathematics with curiosity and perseverance.

9. Stand and Deliver

It is an inspiring true story of a  dedicated math teacher “Jaime Escalante”. He takes on a challenge to teach underprivileged and marginalized students. Despite a number of challenges like lack of resources, low expectations, a community of poverty, and crime, he proves that his students are capable of achieving academic excellence.

He adopts unconventional teaching methods and encourages students to work hard and strive for success. The movie presents mathematics as a powerful subject that can inspire students to develop a positive attitude toward math. It encourages them to work hard and overcome difficulties by practicing and practicing. 

10. A man who knew Infinity

It is a biographical movie based on the life of the Indian mathematician “Srinivasa Ramanujan”. The movie revolves around his life and struggles to achieve success and recognition. Born into a poor family, Ramanujan had to face challenges including racial discrimination and cultural differences but despite these, he collaborated with the renowned British mathematician G.H Hardy at Trinity College, Cambridge.

The movie inspires students to explore mathematics and develop a positive attitude toward it. Also, it focuses on the importance of collaboration and mentorship that encourages them to seek guidance from their teachers or mentors.

11. Shakuntala devi

It is a biographical movie based on the life of the Indian mathematician “Shakuntala Devi”. The movie highlights her extraordinary achievements and personal journey. During her childhood days, she discovered her passion for mathematics. She has this unique ability for mental calculations which quickly recognized her as a mathematical prodigy.

As she grows, she sets on a journey to showcase her talent to the world. The movie then takes viewers to the complexities of her life beyond this. She struggled as a woman trying to break societal norms and as a mother. The movie can help students develop an interest in mathematics. It can encourage them to believe in themselves and embrace their unique talents.

12. Good will hunting

This is a movie about a boy named “Will Hunting” who possesses a unique talent for mathematics. However, due to his past and emotional barriers, he was not able to realize his true potential. The story then takes viewers on how his professor “Gerald Lambeau” and therapist “Sean Maguire” helped him overcome his challenges and embark on a journey of personal growth and self-discovery. 

The movie focuses on the importance of education and mentorship. It encourages viewers to embrace one’s talents, seek guidance, and work hard to overcome obstacles and achieve personal and academic success.

Can movies help with subject understanding? 

The effectiveness of using movies as an educational tool depends on various factors, such as the quality of the film, alignment with learning objectives, accompanying activities, and thoughtful integration into the curriculum. Given that, movies can be used as a supplement to instructional strategies benefiting in the following ways.

  • Visual and Emotional Engagement: Movies engage multiple senses and offer visual representations that can enhance comprehension and retention. The combination of visuals, audio, and storytelling along with visual perceptual skills can stimulate emotions and capture students’ attention, making the learning experience more engaging and memorable.
  • Real-World Applications: Movies[1] can provide real-world examples and applications of subject matter, making abstract concepts more concrete and relatable for students. By seeing how concepts are applied in practical settings, students can better understand their relevance and importance.
  • Visualization and Conceptual Understanding: Movies can help students visualize complex concepts and processes that may be challenging to grasp through traditional teaching methods. Visual representations can aid in building a mental model and deepen conceptual understanding, facilitating knowledge transfer and problem-solving skills.
  • Emotional Connection and Engagement: Movies have the ability to evoke emotions, create empathy, and establish a connection between the viewer and the subject matter. Emotional engagement can enhance motivation, interest, and curiosity, leading to a deeper understanding and appreciation of the subject.
  • Multimodal Learning: Movies combine various modalities, such as visuals, sounds, dialogue, and storytelling, providing a multimodal learning experience. This appeals to different learning styles and preferences, accommodating diverse student needs and enhancing overall comprehension.
  • Contextual Learning: Movies can provide a context-rich learning experience by presenting subject matter within a narrative or real-life setting[2]. This contextualization helps students make connections, see the bigger picture, and develop a holistic understanding of the subject matter.


Math-based movies go beyond textbooks and traditional teaching methods as they offer a visual and emotional experience that captures students’ attention and connects them to the real-world applications of math. By watching math-themed films, students witness the achievements and challenges of mathematicians, explore the practical uses of math in various fields, and gain a broader perspective on the subject. 

These movies spark interest, stimulate critical thinking, and encourage students to see math as more than just numbers and equations. Integrating math movies into the middle school curriculum not only enhances subject understanding but also nurtures a positive mindset toward mathematics. By showing students that math is exciting, relevant, and accessible, these films inspire a love for learning and empower students to embrace the challenges of the subject.


  1. Russo, James & Russo, Toby & Roche, Anne. (2021). Using Rich Narratives to Engage Students in Worthwhile Mathematics: Children’s Literature, Movies and Short Films. Education Sciences. 11. 10.3390/educsci11100588. 
  2. Russo, James & Russo, Toby. (2020). Movies through a mathematical lens. 

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