Inventing Tomorrow, Laura Nix, Fishbowl Films, 2018

This inspiring, engaging documentary follows students from around the world who are competing at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF). Director Laura Nix profiles four groups of ISEF finalists whose projects focus on environmental problems in their hometowns. Sahithi Pingali of Bengaluru, India, is collecting data on water pollution. Nuha Anfaresi and Intan Putri of Bangka, Indonesia, are working on a filter to address tin mining waste. Jose Elizade Esparaza, Jesús Martínez Aranda, and Fernando Sánchez Villalobos (pictured at right) of Monterrey, Mexico, are working on a photocatalytic paint that might neutralize some of the airborne pollutants in their city. Some of the most moving scenes involve student Jared Goodwin, from Hilo, Hawaii, whose grandmother vividly remembers the tsunamis that helped spread arsenic contamination throughout his hometown. Nix handles the ISEF competition with a light touch; the point is not who wins top honors, but the journey these students have come through to be there. The film is a must-see for anyone passionate about science education. Inventing Tomorrow will be released on 31 August 2018 in New York City and 7 September 2018 in Los Angeles, Seattle, and San Francisco. For more information visit —mb

Older Than Dirt: A Wild but True History of Earth, Don Brown and Mike Perfit, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017, $18.99

Illustrator Don Brown and geologist Mike Perfit, longtime friends who first met as freshmen in college, combine their skills in this graphic novel on the history of Earth aimed at young readers. An amusingly grouchy groundhog discusses everything from the Big Bang to plate tectonics with his neighbor, a quippy but slightly dense earthworm. The colorful illustrations and accessible writing will appeal to elementary and middle school students who are fascinated by rocks, dinosaurs, earthquakes, and volcanoes. —mb

The History of Physics: A Very Short Introduction, J. L. Heilbron, Oxford U. Press, 2018, $11.95 (paper)

Oxford University Press’s Very Short Introduction series tackles everything from black holes to Hollywood. J. L. Heilbron, an eminent historian of science known for his work on astronomy, geometry, and early-20th-century physics, takes on the daunting task of covering the history of physics in a pocket-sized volume. Heilbron includes topics from the ancient Greeks to the discovery of quarks, and well-chosen photographs and illustrations accompany the text. —mb

The Physics Behind …: Discover the Physics of Everyday Life, Russ Swan, Firefly Books, 2018, $24.95 (paper)

Driverless cars, supersonic flight, and the Human Genome Project are just a few of the many weighty subjects addressed by science writer Russ Swan in this physics popularization. Presented in a light and easy-to-read format, The Physics Behind … consists of colorful two-page spreads, each centered on a specific topic and containing several paragraphs of nontechnical text, artwork, and infographics. In the book’s introduction, Swan says his goal is to offer the reader a “peek under the hood” of a range of amazing devices and technologies that have become ubiquitous in modern life. —cc