Last night, Community Television of Santa Cruz County presented the Youth Award: Best Film to a group of
3th, 4th and 5th graders from Delaveaga, Bay View, Gault and Westlake Elementary schools. The film, “The Alternative”, is a 38 minute documentary produced by the 28 students enrolled in Santa Cruz City Schools’ Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) Summer Academy class, “Documentary Filmmaking”. The film centers on experts in alternative energy; all were guest speakers during the summer class.
The students, led by Bay View teacher Krissie Olson, managed every aspect of the production. Olson grouped her students into seven teams; five of the groups worked with their guest speakers while the other two teams crafted opening and closing segments. The students researched each speaker’s specialty; wrote interview questions for their speaker; questioned and filmed their speaker; edited the interview; inserted “B roll” footage; added special effects and created a soundtrack for their segment. Said Olson, “I organized the speakers, set up the computers, taught the students the programs and combined the final segments, but that was such a small drop in the bucket compared to the work these kids put in”.
Guest speakers and film subject included Kathy Bisbee, producer, sharing production tips; Warren Lutey, Fleet Services Manager, University of Santa Cruz, discussing electric cars; Chris Bley, Rope Partners, and expert in wind power; Josh Lorey, Solar Design Consultant, Independent Energy Systems demonstrating a solar oven; Matt Insley, Pajaro Valley USD bus fleet manager explaining biofuel and Abe Wolcott, Zhang Research Group, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry an expert on hydrogen fuel cells.
The students toured the Community TV facilities before returning to the state of the art Bay View Elementary school computer lab where they learned to use Apple Computer products including iMacs, iMovie and Garage Band.
Student enthusiam ran high for the project. “It was cool that we were taught tons of stuff about filming and iMovie. I thought it was really nice that we even got to put music in our section. I thought, though, that the most fun part was that we learned a whole lot about our subject and then we got to share it with our fellow movie-makers,” said 5th grader Ravi Nidumolu.
Teacher Krissie Olson also found the project rewarding, “This class began because I saw an opportunity to marry the technology Bay View had in place and my passions for teaching, computers and alternative energy. It was a fun project and the students really impressed me. They were enthusiastic, knowledgeable and capable with the tremendous task set before them. I was able to teach them the tools to use the programs and they took off in creative, intelligent directions. I’m really proud of all of them. The speakers were great to work with and had nothing but compliments to say about the finished project. Community TV has supported our process from the beginning as well. It’s wonderful what you can come up with when you bring the community and schools together.”