Watch These Amazing Kids!

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Watch These Amazing Kids!

White House airs student-made films

By Betsy Corcoran (Columnist)     Feb 28, 2014

Watch These Amazing Kids!

Did you catch the big film festival this weekend?

Not the Oscars, but the 16 student-made films that debuted at the White House.

Late last year, the White House invited students to create three-minute-long videos of how technology supported their efforts to learn. By the January deadline, more than 2,500 submissions rolled in. White House staff watched them all, selected more than 160 finalists and then winnowed down the choices to 16 top candidates.

Talk about an historic moment.

More than a hundred students, teachers and parents gathered on Friday afternoon to watch the films--and, yes, meet the President. He spent time behind closed doors talking with the students, who ranged in age from elementary school through high school seniors. Parents and teachers were treated to 10-minutes of comments from the President in the east room of the White House, an elegant room where a week earlier, President Obama had greeted France's President François Hollande and where, decades ago, President Roosevelt had hosted boxing matches.

Immediately following the President's remarks, he disappeared to hold another press conference: to denounce Russia's move on the Ukraine.

The students and their fans, meanwhile, were treated to an airing of all 16 films.

Most notably, the student films were not so much about technology--but about what the technology allowed them to do. Among them:

Students at High Tech High, who were already campaigning against gun violence, connected with teenagers in Colorado after a school shooting in Arapahoe, Colorado. See "Beyond the Crossfire."

An elementary school with dyslexia described how learning to type helped him learn to read--and has made it possible for him to imagine become an entomologist. Check out "Alex."

A remarkable prescient student almost scooped the theme of the movie "Her," with his film "Pip," in which he figures out how to create a presentation about wanting to travel to space with a little help from his OS. Watch "Pip."

A girl who relocates to the US from Malaysia overcomes her shyness and sense of being different in her new home when she and others use technology to connect. See "Hello from Maylasia."

A Florida student who had to move to Philadelphia for cancer treatments described staying connected with his school and classmates with help from a robot that "represented" him in class. Watch "A Day in the Life of Kyle."

Watch all 16 finalists here.

Most of the students said that they had created their film in a couple of days. High school senior, Kayla Breit's film, "Stay Curious" which she wrote, shot, edited and did a music soundtrack for, was so remarkably polished that it seemed ready for primetime. (She has other ideas for her career, however, and says she intends to study neuroscience.)

Celebrities, including Bill Nye the Science Guy, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson (who previewed his new upcoming series, "Cosmos"), leaders from the American Film Institute and companies including Adobe and Prezi, lauded the students, welcoming them to the world of film and filmmakers.

It was, indeed, a bit of history in the making.

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