CSPAN StudentCam 2010 | Print |
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Educators: Have you ever looked for the perfect competition to motivate your students? Or if you are a student: Have you looked for the perfect opportunity to showcase your videography skills, present your work to the world, and earn a little cash on the side? StudentCam is the answer you’ve been looking for.

StudentCam is an annual national video documentary competition that encourages students to think seriously about issues that affect our communities and our nation. Students are asked to create a short (5-8 minute) video documentary that responds to one of two topics. In this year’s competition, students must touch on one of our country’s greatest strengths or a challenge our country is facing. Students must accomplish this challenge following five simple guidelines:

  • Follow C-SPAN’s philosophy of presenting varying sides of the story
  • Include C-SPAN programming related to the topic
  • Be 5 – 8 minutes in length
  • Include credits or some type of works cited list following the documentary
  • Complete the entry form and submit documentaries directly on StudentCam’s website, www.studentcam.org.

Originating during the 2004 presidential campaign as a documentary competition called CampaignCam, the competition was an easy way for C-SPAN to show that students' views were important and to help include students’ voices in the national dialogue. That year CSPAN received hundreds of entries from middle and high school students across the country.

After the initial success of the competition, C-SPAN decided to take a year off to revamp. In 2006, C-SPAN, in conjunction with America's cable television industry, launched StudentCam. The idea of the competition was the same: C-SPAN asked students to take a national issue of significance and critically analyze it. The winning videos successfully presented more than one side of an issue facing the country. C-SPAN also included a new requirement: to incorporate C-SPAN programming in each documentary. This addition encouraged students to familiarize themselves with C-SPAN's programming as well the company's philosophy of showing multiple sides of an issue and allowing the viewer to decide for themselves what they believe about an issue.

In 2009, C-SPAN received more StudentCam entries than ever before. Nearly 2,000 students participated in the competition and together submitted almost 1,000 entries. C-SPAN attributed last year's record number of entries to the interest in the 2008 presidential campaign, but also believe that the improved usability of technology and the growing awareness of the StudentCam competition were contributing factors to its growth. Hoping for even more entries this year, it’s time you got involved.

What’s in it for you? First of all, there are major cash prizes involved. A total of $50,000 will be awarded, which includes 75 student awards and 11 teacher awards. The Grand Prize winner with the best overall entry will be awarded $5,000, and their teacher? They get to spend $1,000 on digital video equipment for their school! Other cash prize awards of $250, $500, $750, $1,500, and $3,000 will be awarded to students in both middle and high school categories.

But wait! There’s more! Past StudentCam winners have received much more than just a cash prize. C-SPAN airs the top winning videos on its networks and also does interviews with the winning documentarians. In addition to being featured on the C-SPAN Networks, many of the students also received visits from C-SPAN's Civics Bus and a congratulation ceremony from C-SPAN and the student's local cable provider.

Sound like something you need to check out? This year’s deadline is Wednesday, January 20, 2010. Make sure you check out the StudentCam website at www.studentcam.org for rules, tutorials, and to view past winning submissions and student interviews. You never know, your submission could be running nationally on C-SPAN in a matter of weeks!

Amanda Porter, Associate Editor of School Video News has been involved in many aspects of video/film production, especially in the past five years.

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