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September 1, 2014, 7:50 pm

Student filmmakers shoot winning math, science flicks

The Philadelphia Math + Science Coalition held its first-ever student video contest. Eighty-one inventive videos produced by over 300 middle and high school students from Philadelphia public and charter schools were invited to submit 30-60 second videos answering the question, “Why is math and/or science important to you?”

The mission of the Philadelphia Math + Science Coalition is to engage youth and increase their interest in learning mathematics and science. The Coalition wants students in Philadelphia schools to excel in these areas.

After a public online vote and final judging from a panel of Apple representatives, two winning student-created videos were celebrated at James Dobson Elementary School and Boys Latin of Philadelphia Charter School. Ceremonies were held at separately.

Emceed by the Philadelphia Phillies’ Scott Palmer, the events featured appearances by the Phillie Phanatic, the Science Cheerleaders and the contest judges from Apple.

The “Radical Math” video from eighth-grade students, Rebecca Gallagher, A’Jahnae Adams, Imani Collier, Timothy Mitchell and Trevor Loughrey of Dobson was selected as a contest winner in the middle school division. Their teacher, Allison McConnell, sponsored them.

As a seventh and eighth grade math and science teacher at Dobson, McConnell said she frequently hears her students asking the purpose of math and science in their daily lives and was thrilled when she came across this contest.

“It’s one of the biggest questions I get. I thought this would be a great opportunity for the kids to explore why [math and science] was important to them,” McConnell said.

She accredits the video entirely to the efforts of the students. Next year, McConnell said she would encourage more students to submit videos.

“I think that piece of it because they created it, it allowed them to have more pride. Rather than me say, ‘How about you do this.’ I really left it up to them and it was entirely student guided,” McConnell said.

In the high school division, “A Letter Made Possible with Science” video from tenth-grader, Alec Stith, of Boys Latin won. His sponsor teacher Trey Smith supported him.

Student winners received a $100 in iTunes gift certificates, $250 worth of classroom materials and a class trip to a professional recording studio donated by recording artist Jill Scott.  

The Philadelphia Education Fund is a nonprofit organization that provides funding for various educational programs and initiatives. In 2005, the Philadelphia Education Fund assembled the Philadelphia Math + Science Coalition to address the quality of math and science instruction in schools in lieu of a national demand. The Coalition has partnerships with several representatives from corporations, universities, non-profit organizations, and the School District of Philadelphia.