The European Chain Reaction is a science/art project and competition which challenges primary schools across Europe to create, film and upload a "Rube-Goldberg/Robert Storm Petersen-like" chain reaction. Through the contest, children learn more about science and computers in a fun way and in the end all submitted chain videos are merged into a big cross-border European chain reaction.
MEDEA 2009 finalist
SciCast is an online repository that shares videos, sent in by children and adults, related to Science, Technology, Engineering or Maths (STEM) and awards the best videos in the annual SciCast Film Awards. It is aimed at young people from 8 years old up - or even younger if they are ready to make a film, but also invites teachers and professional scientists to send in movies. Video submitters and teachers can also access additional information such as a handbook about shooting a video, write-ups of the activities, experiments and demonstrations. SciCast states that making a film can be part of science lessons, or media studies, at home or in a science club.
The showcase video of Planet SciCast, including an interview with Jonathan Sanderson
The online videoclips range from songs that help memorising scientific facts, scientific experiments, demonstrations of difficult Physics concepts and more. They are freely available online and can be viewed at home and in class, where some teachers use the videoclips to illustrate science as lesson starters. The project helps to cement science knowledge - if you have to explain it to someone else, you have to understand it yourself.
What the judges said of Planet SciCast:
“This competition and site is collecting a great resource of effective science learning videos which shows video being used at its best. This site involves 2 types of learning: learning from content created by others and the second type, which is implemented extremely well, is learning by exploring, creating and doing. The concept is as much about learning as about communication and creativity - a wonderful cross disciplinary skill set is being developed here. Learners explain themselves in the format they appreciate most, with humour, with creativity and thus the scientific topics and content become very accessible.
An excellent initiative that is well supported in all its different aspects, by providing more search options, teachers and users will benefit even more from the re-usability of the mediaclips. Even though videos are created by non-professionals for the most part, the quality is very good and by adding in the 'Film School' section, the users are not only educated in science, but additionally in general creative media usage.”
About the creation of Planet SciCast
“With UK TV doing less science for children a couple of years ago, we wanted a project that put science entertainment in the hands of the consumer. In 2006, television producer Jonathan Sanderson brought the idea for SciCast to NESTA. With SciCast, teams of people (mostly young people at school, but some teachers and professional scientists) make short films of anything to do with science. SciCast has three basic rules: the film must be about subject related to Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM), be only 2 and a half minutes maximum in length and interesting. After we receive the films, we check and upload them ourselves with the aim to professionally maximise picture and sound quality. Once they are online on the SciCast website, the films are viewed and rated by the peers (youths and adults). We also want adult scientists to make films and place them together with those from their younger community members, as we believe that to encourage science uptake at school, young people should feel part of a community of scientists!
We wanted a website for this project and people often ask why we don’t just use YouTube for it, but YouTube is banned in most schools in the UK and we wanted our films to be the best quality possible so they could be shown on a big screen and used on a classroom whiteboard.
SciCast is also about more than Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) as teaming up to get a film made takes all sorts of wider skills (organisational skills, teamworking, creativity, and ICT skills), the kind of skills that NESTA believe make for a more innovative future for young people. We also hold a competition and award ceremony with the year's films each year – the project is now in its third year. As well as the national SciCast Awards, we have growing community of associated competitions, events and workshops in the nations and regions of the UK. As well as the national SciCast Awards, we have growing community of associated competitions, events and workshops in the nations and regions of the UK.”
About Jonathan Sanderson
Following a physics degree, Jonathan Sanderson escaped pure science and fell into television, where he spent more than ten years making science and engineering programmes for a wide range of broadcasters. Most of his series were aimed at families, and particularly at young people. In recent years he's escaped TV too, and is now a media and science communication consultant, working with a range of clients including the Wellcome Trust, the UK's Science & Technology Facilities Council, the Beacons for Public Engagement, and a number of science visitor centres. He lectures on web media for the Science Communication MSc course at the University of the West of England, Bristol. Planet SciCast is a national competition that he runs with a consortium led by NESTA, the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts. The project encourages schools, students, families and professionals to make short films about science subjects, which are collected and shared through a free website. The films are used as a resource for educators, and as a source of entertainment for all. The project is in its third full year and has its own awards ceremony, which was held at the Royal Institution in London in July 2010.
Katie Walsh and Jonathan Sanderson (right) after receiving their prizes from Maruja Gutierrez-Diaz from the European Commission (left)
Jonathan represented Planet SciCast and NESTA together with Katie Walsh, Editor and Project Manager of Planet SciCast. They received a MEDEA medal and prizes including a MicroTrack II mobile digital recorder (sponsored by AVID), and an Adobe Production Premium Creative Suite 4 Licence (sponsored by Adobe Systems).