Days before the Oscars were given out, a group of students from around our region and the nation got their own honor -- their short films were screened at the White House for an audience that included President Obama.
The films celebrate the role that technology plays in education, a big initiative of the Obama administration through its ConnectED program. ConnectED, among other goals, advocates for high-speed internet in the classroom; in the U.S. now, about 36 percent of classrooms have access to high-speed internet, compared to about 100 percent in South Korea.
A total of about 2,500 films were submitted for the festival and 16 films were selected. Among the group were films by first-graders from Silver Spring and eighth-graders from Longfellow Middle School in Falls Church. Another selection was "Through the Lens of a Tiger," created by two seniors at Woodrow Wilson High School in the District.
In the Wilson submission, the students explain how the technology they learned to use at the high school led them to create award-winning music videos, to learn the ins and outs of sports broadcasting and to find their passions for filmmaking.
In the Longfellow Middle School submission, technology keeps friends close -- and collaborating -- even while in different countries.
In the submission from a group of "1st grade friends from Silver Spring, Md." the students reflect on the difference between the classroom of yesterday and the classroom of today.
"In the classrooms of the past they had chalk boards," one student says. "All you could use was a piece of chalk and you would get chalk on your hands," says another.
"That is old school," the next student says.
"Now we have computers, and it is more easier," says another student.
At the White House event, Obama will also announce $400 million in additional software for the ConnectED program. And the student guests got to meet some science celebrities: Bill Nye the Science Guy, actor Kal Penn, and Conan O'Brien were scheduled to attend.
The Wilson submission:
The Silver Spring submission:
The Longfellow Middle submission: