Billed as the YouTube of science, Planet SciCast is encouraging teams of pupils and teachers to make films that depict scientific facts or problems in a creative way. The best entries will win prizes and all the films will be made available on the internet for teachers and pupils to use in lessons.
Early entries include Wild West Fizz Out, a demonstration filmed in the style of a western shoot-out, about what happens to bubbles in fizzy drinks, and a chemical reaction filmed in the style of a silent movie.
The competition is being run by the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts, with the Institute of Physics and the Engineering and Technology Board.
Jonathan Kestenbaum, Nesta's chief executive, said: "This is a fantastic way of getting people, especially children, excited about how science actually works. It is designed to educate by entertaining.
"We are hoping the competition will not just unleash people's inner Spielberg, but also encourage a new generation to bridge the perceived gap between the creative and the scientific."
The project was launched at Swinton community school in south Yorkshire, where local MP John Healey is taking a starring role in two films.
"This is exactly the kind of initiative that helps science become less about textbook learning and more about nurturing an appetite for discovery," he said.
Films should last no more than two-and-a-half minutes. The closing date is January 4 next year.
* Find entry details and examples of what the judges are looking for at www.planet-scicast.com