An Amazing Opportunity for Students

  • Nov 01, 2016

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Each year at this time, we’re excited to announce the start of C-SPAN’s StudentCam short documentary competition, a unique opportunity for young filmmakers (grades 6-12) to influence the national conversation with a 5 to 7-minute film on an issue of sociopolitical importance.

And as an added incentive, C-SPAN will award cash prizes to 150 winning students and 53 teacher advisors!

This year’s theme:

“Your Message to Washington”
What is the most urgent issue for the new president and Congress to address in 2017?

Students may begin submitting videos on November 1, 2016. The submission deadline for all videos is January 20, 2017.

As we like to say in this space, the two things every student has these days are 1) a camera, and 2) an opinion. Let’s help them discover the opportunities available to them when they use those things constructively.

“The kids loved it. For them it was about creating memorable and engaging learning experiences,” says StudentCam participant Karen Rehder of Farragut Middle School in Knoxville, Tennessee. “We took the art of research and storytelling and applied them to 21st-century learning skills.”

In order to get a better idea of what’s expected, check out last year’s winning videos here. For additional information, visit C-SPAN’s StudentCam.

Good luck!

To receive more information about opportunities like this, be sure to bookmark this site and follow DIRECTV Goes to School on Twitter.

—Stephen Vincent D’Emidio

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Registration is now open for the 2016 Young Scientist Challenge!

  • Dec 22, 2015

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Parents and teachers, please help us inspire the next generation of scientists by encouraging your students to consider the 2016 3M/Discovery Education Young Scientist Challenge.

The annual competition, which was founded in 1999, has introduced the world to a slew of promising young minds—kids who, because of participation in this contest, have learned that working hard to apply what they’ve learned really can set a boundless course for their lives.

The contest is open to all students in grades 5-8, and what they’d be vying for is the title of “America’s Top Young Scientist” and a grand prize of $25,000!

Who knows? It may be your encouragement that changes a kid’s life forever.

Registration is open until 8:00 PM ET on April 20, 2016. For more information visit the official Challenge web site.

And to find out about other great opportunities and free educational resources, be sure to bookmark this site and follow DIRECTV Goes to School on Twitter.

—Stephen Vincent D’Emidio

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Calling All High School Filmmakers

  • Dec 03, 2015

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We received some exciting news today about the 2015-2016 TeenDrive365 Video Challenge, brought to you by Toyota and our friends at Discovery Education. Students in grades 9-12 (age 13+) are invited to create a short video on safe driving for the chance to win one of 9 generous cash prizes (and do something really important in the process).

The top prize winner will receive $15,000 and a chance to re-shoot their video with a professional Discovery crew!

The deadline for entries is 3/7/16. Please help us spread the word.

You can watch last year’s top prize-winning video below, and for more information visit the official TeenDrive365 web site.

And to find out about other great opportunities, as well as free educational resources, be sure to bookmark this site and follow DIRECTV Goes to School on Twitter.

—Stephen Vincent D’Emidio

Spread the Word About the C-SPAN StudentCam 2016 Short Documentary Competition!

  • Jul 30, 2015

StudentCam

Back-to-school season brings with it the arrival of C-SPAN’s annual StudentCam short documentary competition—a fabulous opportunity for any civic-minded student (grades 6-12) with a camera and a point of view to influence the national conversation and vie for cash prizes.

Participating schools and teacher advisers are eligible for cash prizes as well!

This year’s theme:

“Road to the White House”
What’s the issue YOU most want candidates to discuss during the 2016 presidential campaign?

The contest launches officially on September 9th, and students may begin uploading their documentaries on November 2nd. The final deadline for submissions is January 20th, 2016.

Pictured above (left to right) are Anna Gilligan, Michael Lozovoy and Katie Demos, 2015′s Grand Prize-winning team of 8th graders from Lexington, Kentucky.

Imagine your own students celebrating such an accomplishment!

But win or lose, participation in the contest is an exercise in intellectual growth. Just ask Clifton Raphael, a StudentCam Teacher Advisor at Oklahoma’s Jennks High School. “StudentCam forces my students to exercise a different set of creative muscles,” says Raphael, “and it’s work that helps them in their other classes as well, whenever they have to use critical thinking and organizational skills.”

For more information, visit C-SPAN’s StudentCam.

And to stay abreast of other great opportunities and free educational resources, be sure to bookmark this site and follow DIRECTV Goes to School on Twitter.

—Stephen Vincent D’Emidio

 

Enter to Win Cool Contests for Earth Science Week 2015!

  • Jul 27, 2015

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In celebration of Earth Science Week 2015, teachers and students K-12 are invited to take part in essay, photography and visual arts competitions, courtesy of the American Geosciences Institute.

A big thank you to our friends at NASA Education for making us aware of these opportunities to explore science through art, and maybe win a prize!

The deadline for submission to all three contests is October 16, 2015:

PHOTOGRAPHY
Open to: All educators and students
Theme: “Earth Systems Interacting”
Photographs should show at least one Earth system affecting another Earth system in your community. Pictured (right) is last year’s winning photo, from Eva Jasinski, depicting the influence of Earth systems upon one another and the theme “Connections in My Community”.
Official contest site

VISUAL ARTS
Open to: Students K-5
Theme: “Picturing Earth Systems”
Submit an original 2-D visual arts project that shows how land, water, air and living things affect each other.
Official contest site

ESSAY
Open to: Students grades 6-9
Theme: “Earth System Visualization Today”
In 300 words or less, explain one way that geoscientists’ use of cutting-edge visualization is advancing Earth science today.
Official contest site

Now get busy!

And to stay abreast of other great free educational resources, be sure to bookmark this site and follow DIRECTV Goes to School on Twitter.

—Stephen Vincent D’Emidio

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Better Living Through STEM

  • Jul 16, 2015

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Samsung Solve for Tomorrow is a national competition inviting teachers and students, grades 6-12, to put Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) to work solving problems in their local communities.

And solve they have:

-Devising a plan for water conservation in California.

-Creating adaptive equipment to enhance the lives of wheelchair-bound fellow students.

-Developing “vertical produce gardens” that make the most of limited space in an urban environment.

And that’s just the most recent contest!

These projects are typical of the good work that’s been brought about by Samsung Solve for Tomorrow since its inception in 2010: STEM-based solutions to everyday problems, engineered by students with an eye toward a better future.

Which is why DIRECTV is a proud partner and sponsor. Recently, participating teacher Chris Oonk and the student members of his engineering club received the DIRECTV Math Makes-it-Work Awarda $25,000 cash grant toward further development of their submitted project, an app designed to give motorists early warning of flood conditions in the low-lying coastal city of Charleston, South Carolina.

You can read all about Chris and his students here.

After that, you can make your own contribution to a better future by spreading the word about Samsung Solve for Tomorrow. Application for entry into the next round of competition begins in September!

For more news about education events and free educational resources, be sure to bookmark this site and follow DIRECTV Goes to School on Twitter.

 —Stephen Vincent D’Emidio

3M and Discovery Education announce finalists in the the 2015 Young Scientist Challenge

  • Jun 26, 2015

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We continue to be impressed with the caliber of kids making names for themselves in the Discovery Education/3M Young Scientist Challenge. The annual contest, open to students grades 5-8, launched in 1999 and has introduced the world to a slew of promising young minds.

And as I’ve stated before in this space, what impresses me most about these kidsbeyond the confidence, intelligence and applied knowledge they displayis how nearly all of them seem to have been moved to action by a desire to solve some real-world problem.

For example, among this year’s top-10 projects are efforts to:

-help senior citizens safely navigate stairs

-help reduce stress among those with Autistic Spectrum Disorder, and among their caregivers as well

-help people suffering with allergies

-help reduce the number of auto accidents caused by substance abuse

Help. Help. Help. What a marvelous approach to employing one’s gifts.

And they’re all still just kids.

Each of the finalists will spend the summer being mentored by a 3M scientist. In October, they’ll travel to 3M headquarters in St. Paul, Minnesota to compete for the grand prize of $25,000 and the title America’s Top Young Scientist.

But you can meet them now by visiting the official Challenge web site.

And for more news about education events and free educational resources, be sure to bookmark this site and follow DIRECTV Goes to School on Twitter.

 

—Stephen Vincent D’Emidio

 

DIRECTV Brings Fun and Learning to a Denver Charter School

  • Jun 12, 2015

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DIRECTV and FOX visited Denver’s University Prep Elementary School (U Prep) during the last week of their 2014-2015 school year to host a live-action version of the hit TV show “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader”. Our guest blogger Steve Demedis (below), who works in DIRECTV’s Communications department, was in attendance, and came away asking himself the same question.

Steve Demedis

I am smarter than a fifth grader.

And I’ve been certain of this since the mid-90s. But as I stood in the back of the gymnasium at University Preparatory School (U Prep) in Denver, Colorado, a spectator at the DIRECTV-sponsored Are you Smarter than a 5th Grader event, my confidence began to waiver. I started to question the education I had received at Plum Point Elementary all those years ago.

What is a trapezoid? How many sides does a heptagon have? Which number is both a factor of 36 and a multiple of 3?

But what truly crushed my self-esteem was the eager enthusiasm, and dare I say swagger, with which the students – or “scholars” as they are called at U Prep – tackled these questions.

In the event, which DIRECTV hosted in partnership with FOX, third and fourth graders took turns taking the podium to answer math questions. They received points for correct answers and had a “panel” of classmates to turn to should they require assistance.

It was all meant to celebrate the school’s success with ST Math, a blended learning software program that was implemented at U Prep thanks to a 2014 grant from DIRECTV.

And this was a celebration. From the moment the students filed into the gymnasium-turned-gameshow-set, there was an energy in the room unlike anything I remembered from my days in elementary school. The kids spontaneously danced to the pop music mashups blaring through booming speakers (yes, U Prep is cooler than your elementary school). They clapped and chanted responses to the school’s energetic principal. And when math questions were posed to the audience, scholars nearly dislocated their arms, wildly thrusting their hands in the air in the hope that they would be called upon.

“This is a great example of how we are supporting STEM education in our local schools, and celebrating the successes of the students at the end of a long school year,” said Ron Hyland, a VP of Customer Care at DIRECTV who shared some remarks to start the event and is most certainly smarter than a fifth grader. “It’s incredible to see the engagement and energy of the students. They are proud to show what they’ve learned and eager to support each other.”

Ron hits on what was probably the most impressive thing I saw at the event. After the first contestant and eventual champion, fourth-grader Nakina Johnson, answered all five questions correctly, the next scholar found himself in the unfortunate position of being the first to answer incorrectly. The disappointment on his face at the sound of the buzzer was quickly washed away by the cheers and clapping of his peers, who picked him up with their unwavering support. He answered the next four questions correctly.

The kids who competed and cheered, along with their teachers, deserve the credit for what I experienced at this event. But I couldn’t help but take pride in being a small part of it as an employee of a company whose Corporate Citizenship mission is to foster K-12 education.

The impact we are having on young people, naturally, has greater meaning when you see it in person. But it really hits home, when you see Billy Milton Jr., a team leader at the Denver Customer Care Center, in attendance.

Billy’s daughter Shayla, a third grader at U Prep, had been selected as a panelist to help the contestant from her class answer questions. Billy was there to watch.

“It’s amazing to see. I knew this is a great school, but I didn’t know that DIRECTV was a part of that,” said Billy. “I love that the company recognizes the work this school is doing and promotes it.”

University Prep is a tuition-free public charter school that focuses on college the second a child walks through its doors. It is one of three schools in the Denver metro area we sponsor through the ST Math grant.

“Having a corporate sponsor in DIRECTV is critical to our mission of preparing each of our students to go on to college. It’s not an easy thing to do, but DIRECTV believes in that mission and understands that seeing it to reality takes a real investment of time, money, and resources,” said the school’s headmaster David Singer. “What they do to enhance the education we provide our students is incredible.”

Kudos to the Corporate Citizenship team at DIRECTV for creating an incredible event. I left U Prep on Tuesday afternoon impressed by the scholars and teachers, proud of DIRECTV’s work to improve our local community, and eternally thankful that my paycheck doesn’t hinge on my being able to do fifth grade math.

Just for fun, take a shot at the following math problem from the event, and prove to yourself that you’re smarter than a 5th grader:

There are 100 students in the school. On Valentine’s Day, each student gives every other student one card. How many cards are exchanged in total?

—Steve Demedis

NOTE: For more news and information about free educational resources, be sure to bookmark this site and follow DIRECTV Goes to School on Twitter.

 

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There is still time to enter the second annual White House Student Film Festival!

  • Dec 23, 2014

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As I’ve said before, two things every student has these days are 1) a camera, and 2) an opinion—or at least a point of view. So it’s no surprise that more and more education-friendly entities (including C-SPAN and CNN Student News), are inviting students to make films.

Chief among those advocates now is none other than President Barack Obama, who has extended an engaging challenge of his own by way of the annual White House Student Film Festival.

The competition is open to all U.S. students grades K-12, who may submit a video up to 3 minutes in length, fiction or documentary, based on this year’s theme, “The Impact of Giving Back.”

“Tell a story about paying it forward, about community service, or what making a difference looks like in your eyes and through your lens,” say the contest’s official rules.

The deadline for submissions is January 20, 2015, so spread the word!

For more information watch the video below, then visit the official White House web site.

And to keep abreast of great educational opportunities like this, be sure to bookmark this site and follow DIRECTV Goes to School on Twitter.

—Stephen Vincent D’Emidio

The 2015 C-SPAN StudentCam documentary competition is on!

  • Nov 03, 2014

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For some time now we’ve been telling you about the C-SPAN StudentCam short documentary competition—a great opportunity for civic-minded students (grades 6-12) to influence the national conversation and vie for cash prizes. Participating schools and teacher advisers are eligible for cash prizes as well.

The competition invites middle and high-school students to create 5 to 7-minute film on an issue of sociopolitical importance.

This year’s theme:

“The Three Branches and You”
Tell a story that demonstrates how a policy, law or action by either the Executive, Legislative, or Judicial branch has affected you or your community.

Cash prizes totaling $100,000 will be awarded to 150 winning student filmmakers and 53 teacher advisers. The submission deadline for all videos is January 20, 2015.

Let’s face it, the two things every student has these days are 1) a video camera, and 2) an opinion. Make this a year your students will never forget by showing them the doors that can open when they use those things constructively.

Listen to what this participating teacher adviser had to say:

“All of my StudentCam participants walk a little taller, (and) they exude a poise and self-confidence that the other eighth graders (who did not participate), don’t.”  —Karen Rehder, Farragut Middle School, Knoxville, TN

And this, from a proud mom:

“This is the sort of thing that he’ll remember his whole life, of course, and it’s life-changing. You can be sure that you’ve had a formidable impact on this young man, in part because of the honor of the award, but in larger part because he experienced what it’s like to make a difference in something important.”  —Sharon Webb, Mother of 2010 StudentCam winner Matthew Shimura, Honolulu, HI

For more information, visit C-SPAN StudentCam.

And if you need more inspiration, check out 2012′s First Prize-winning film from Leo Pfeifer, a then 8th-grader from Seattle, Washington (below).

To receive more information about opportunities like this, be sure to bookmark this site and follow DIRECTV Goes to School on Twitter.

—Stephen Vincent D’Emidio