St. James School’s film festival innovative and creative approach to teaching science

Written by  Wednesday, 20 June 2018 13:48
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The St. James production team from left: teacher Mike Veryzer, volunteer Charlotte MacAllister, Vice-Principal Lori Bryden, emcees Hector MacAllister and Blake Cryer with Algonquin & Lakeshore Catholic District School Board trustee Sean Kelly. Photo/Craig Bakay The St. James production team from left: teacher Mike Veryzer, volunteer Charlotte MacAllister, Vice-Principal Lori Bryden, emcees Hector MacAllister and Blake Cryer with Algonquin & Lakeshore Catholic District School Board trustee Sean Kelly. Photo/Craig Bakay

There was a door person, keyboard music and a red carpet leading into the 1st ever St. James International Film Festival last week at St. James Major Catholic School in Sharbot Lake.

They even had popcorn.

In an innovative program, the students formed teams to produce 10 short videos, all with the theme of climate change. They explored topics such as the effect on penguins, flooding, wild fires, polar bears, blooper reels and cow farts.

One of the biggest driving forces for the project has been of volunteer mom Charlotte MacAllister, whose day job is senior program officer, climate change at the International Development Research Centre in Ottawa.

With a PhD in hydrology, MacAllister naturally has an interest in science but also recognized the difficulties in inspiring students towards such pursuits. So, two years ago, she came up with the idea of marrying arts and science through the contemporary technology of video production along with Vice-Principal Lori Bryden.

But being a small rural school has its limitations.

So, they secured a Speak Up grant from the Ministry of Education (their second, the first was for a weather station at the school) for iPads and tripods, some free software from FiLMiC Pro and some instruction/training/guidance from Youth Active Media. The next thing you know, emcee Hector MacAllister was belting out “rooooll the clip.”

“Sometimes science can be a little bit dull,” Charlotte MacAllister said. “But combining it in the arts curriculum cam get kids engaged.”

And engaged they certainly were.

“I know it’s not a real audience, but I had a little bit of stage fright,” said Hector MacAllister, who not only produced one of the segments but served as emcee with teammate Blake Cryer. “At first it was a square wheel but now it’s a circle.”

The media award goes to Rian Cryer and Aiden Peterson for their How Climate Change Would Affect the Earth, in which they used time travel to illustrate their point in a rather engaging and creative way.

“I wanted to see it in the future and he (Peterson) wanted to see it in the present,” said Cryer. “It’s something we thought was cool.”

“We got the idea and hashed it around,” said Peterson, who also said he’d like to pursue video production further.

School board trustee Sean Kelly seemed quite pleased by what he’d seen.

“I’m so glad it worked out I could be here,” Kelly said. “They’ve shown the board how well they’re working with the technology.”

“The kids were asking when they could make more videos so I guess we hit a bullseye,” said MacAllister.

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