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Put Students in the Director’s Chair With 60-Second Science Documentaries

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KQED Youth Media Challenge Science Documentary. Illustration of student with a beaker and microscope.

Sign up for the free workshop to learn how to implement the challenge in your classroom!

We ask student scientists to experiment, design, explore and observe as they build critical understanding of science concepts. KQED’s new Science Documentary Youth Media Challenge helps students bring this learning to life by creating 60-90-second mini-documentaries showing how a science issue, concept or observation connects with their lives or community. 

Merek Chang, a high school biology and chemistry teacher at William Workman High School near Los Angeles, appreciated the flexibility of the Science Documentary challenge and the opportunities for his students to show off their media-making abilities.  

“The Sci Doc challenge was an eye-opening experience for me as an educator,” said Chang, who did the project remotely in a remedial chemistry class during summer school. “I was shocked by the ability many of my students have when it comes to creating and editing videos. Because the Science Documentary challenge does not limit students to a specific topic, students enjoyed having free rein on producing videos on topics that were of interest to them.” 

Illustration of microwave and person hugging with heart

Watch this example by Emely C. from Chang’s class, “How Powerful are Microwaves?” and find out if all microwaves are the same.



Once the school year starts, Chang plans to revisit the Science Documentary challenge, but tie it more closely to the Next Generation Science Standards, including connections to science and engineering practices. In this way, the Science Documentary youth media challenge connects to KQED’s other STEM challenge, Engineering for Good

“Both challenges are great ways to assess student knowledge while helping them develop media literacy skills,” Chang said. “Students would raise awareness about a local issue with the Science Documentary Challenge, then design a prototype to address this issue through the Engineering for Good Challenge.” 

Thinking about jumping into the Science Documentary challenge? Merek recommends going through the process yourself by creating your own science documentary as an example for students. 

Join Merek Chang and KQED staff to learn how to implement this challenge with your students and start your own exemplar science documentary at our two-part workshop on August 4 & 5 from 4-6pm PT. Register here.

“You will build empathy for your students as you will get first-hand experience of the challenge  and learning experiences that come with making a short video. You will also be able to better address issues as they arise,” Merek said. “The curriculum provides step by step activities to guide students through the video-making process, but it is still important to use digression and scaffold for your students when the need is there.” 

See how Merek scaffolded the Science Documentary challenge for his students using a Science Documentary student notebook

Join us! 

Get started by exploring the Science Documentary curriculum resources. All student submissions are published to the showcase, and some may be featured on KQED digital channels and in posts like this one! 

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