Blog: These Student Filmmakers Have Science Stories to Tell

Blog: These Student Filmmakers Have Science Stories to Tell

Grade Level



15 minutes or fewer


Engineering and Tech

Thanks to inexpensive digital filming equipment and editing software, student video competitions are becoming a popular method of high-impact educational outreach. Hosted by various non-profit organizations, these competitions encourage student filmmakers to explore a range of scientific subjects and issues, from environmental conservation to climate change. What’s more, the winning entries serve as multimedia resources for educators and help teach the public about science.

Below are a few standout examples of video competitions and winning entries that illustrate the talent of promising future science communicators.

World of 7 Billion Video Contest

Ages: Grades 9-12
Topics: How population growth influences climate change, global poverty, and water sustainability
Video Length: 60 seconds or less

Hosting organization Population Education received more than 900 video entries from 27 countries (including one repeat winner from Lithuania) in its most recent competition. For Kayla Briet, the first place winner in the Water Sustainability category, the connection between water and population growth really hit home. Kayla described her motivation to competition organizers: “I have family in China who are suffering from the pollution there. I’m also Native American [Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation], and my family on the reservation has a lot of water shortages, and they aren’t really paid attention to.”

“Every Drop Counts,” by Kayla Briet
(First Place, Water Sustainability)

“Climate Change and How to Slow it Down,” by Marius Vaitkevicius
(First Place, Climate Change)

Young Reporters for the Environment Competition

Ages: 11-21
Topics: Any local environmental issue, covered in writing, photography, or video
Video Length: Up to 3 minutes

The Young Reporters for the Environment Competition is an annual youth journalism challenge run by the Foundation for Environmental Education, hosted in the U.S. by the National Wildlife Foundation. Zachary Korff, the 2013 winner, hit the trails to learn more about how trail cyclists might be endangering a local ecosystem and worsening erosion by riding during weather-related park closures. Competition judges noted how Korff “has direct experience with the issue, describes the problem from various perspectives, interviews stakeholders, and concludes with clear recommendations.”

“A Tale of Two Trails,” by Zachary Korff
(First Place 2013, Video)

“The History of Hannah Park,” by Bethany Bella
(First Place 2014, Video)

Kavli Foundation Science Video Contest

Ages: Grades 6-9
Topics: Communicate a Science Concept
Video Length: 90 seconds or less

The theme of this annual contest, hosted by the Kavli Foundation, changes from year to year. The most recent challenge asked middle and high school-aged students to explain—in just 90 seconds—the science behind some of Hollywood’s most popular science fiction. The third place winner, Tim Eddy, described the feasibility of a zombie-pocalypse from an infectious disease perspective (and included a healthy dose of zombie violence and gore).

“A to Z of Zombies,” by Tim Eddy

i5 Digital Video Competition

Ages: Grades 6-12
Topics: How Science Technology Engineering and/or Math (STEM) are an important part of your life
Video Length: 5 minutes or less

The name of this competition, hosted by the Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, comes from five ways that STEM can impact the lives of students: through innovations, issues, individuals, inspiring careers, and incredible income potential. The challenge tasks students with communicating one of these STEM influences in a five-minute video. Jillian Weida won the grand prize for her video, “Closing the Floodgates: Building the Baldwin Bioswale.” Weida interviewed members of a community affected by flooding in Pittsburgh and followed the creation of a water runoff and silt management system (called a bioswale) near her high school.

“Closing the Floodgates: Building the Baldwin Bioswale,” by Jillian Weida

Meet the Writer

About Ariel Zych

Ariel Zych is Science Friday’s director of audience. She is a former teacher and scientist who spends her free time making food, watching arthropods, and being outside.