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March 1, 2014

White House to host first student film festival

More than 2,000 students submitted short videos about education.

(Continued)

Friday’s festival was dreamed up as a way to showcase the many ways students use technology and the president’s proposal.

The videos could be no longer than 3 minutes. Each was viewed multiple times by an “academy” of judges that was made up of White House officials and others.

The 16 films chosen as finalists — no winners will be declared — will be screened in the East Room in collaboration with the American Film Institute. They are separated into four categories: Young Visionaries, Future Innovators, World of Tomorrow and Building Bridges, and will be presented by actor Kal Penn, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, Bill Nye the Science Guy and AFI President and CEO Bob Gazzale. Late-night comedian Conan O’Brien will address the gathering by video.

The young filmmakers range in age from first-graders to 17-year-old high school students and come from 12 states and the District of Columbia.

A group of first-grade friends from Silver Spring, Md., collaborated on “Technology and Me,” in which they offer their take on the past, present and future of classroom technology. One boy declares chalkboards “old school” while a girl explains that “now there are computers and it’s more easier.” Another girl predicts a future classroom with robots.

In the film, “Alex,” 11th-grader Mitch Buangsuwon of California entered a video about his brother, Alex, who suffers from dyslexia and dysgraphia, which affect his reading and writing skills. Alex talks about feeling left behind because he didn’t read as well as the other kids. But after switching to a new school, where he was given a tablet for research and writing, the seventh-grader says his reading went from a third-grade level to a sixth-grade level in a year.

“Not feeling left behind feels really nice,” Alex says. “My school is a good example of how everybody can benefit from technology because everybody learns differently.”

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