One student-made clip will be selected to be shown across the nation.

NASA recently asked Harrisonburg High School to create videos for its eClips website, which contains videos that are part of a Video Design Challenge where students create clips explaining a scientific concept. One student-made clip will be selected from a wide range of entries to be shown across the nation. 

HHS engineering teacher and JMU alumnus (’81) Andy Jackson said NASA originally reached out to schools centered around the Hampton Roads area. However, Joan Harper-Neely, a STEM Educational Specialist who focuses on incorporating science, technology, engineering and math resources through NASA, forwarded NASA’s email to Jackson so his students could also have this opportunity. Jackson said he then had to go through an application process to take part in the challenge. 

“Things are going to get hot and heavy for this workload,” Jackson said about the project. 

Jackson said it’s only his Engineering II class and some of his dual enrollment students who’ll be involved with this project. Their videos, which will be created in groups of around three to five students, will be on common scientific misconceptions they must dispel and correct within a two-minute video. The clips will be finished mid-December, Jackson said. 

Jacksons’s Engineering II students are all sophomores in HHS Governor’s STEM Academy. The STEM Academy has 300 students who’ve had to apply to be accepted and focus on three different pathways, such as technology and engineering, math and science and health care. 

There'll be a cumulative six videos created by Jackson’s class. Three groups are focusing on misconceptions about the moon, and the other three groups’ focus is on misconceptions concerning light. 

“I thought that the idea was really cool,” Keenan Glago, sophomore HHS engineering II student, said. “I mean, NASA is a huge thing. It was surreal.”

Glago’s group is attempting to dispel the idea that light is unaffected through transparent objects. Even though the group said they’re still in the brainstorming stages of their project, they said their video would consist of some sort of real-life demonstration where they’ll shine light through a transparent object to show how light changes. 

The videos about moon misconceptions will be targeted at fourth to eighth grade students, while the light misconception video’s goal audience is fifth through eighth grade students. 

“Younger kids look up to older kids, obviously,” Henry Matter, another one of Jackson’s’ engineering two students, said. “I think it’s cool to be able to have somebody that looks up to you and to have other students watch what you have made and to enjoy something that you’ve made.” 

Matter and his group member Abby Fornadel said that their project will focus on the misconception that the moon doesn’t rotate when it revolves around the sun. They said they’re not exactly sure what they’re going to do for their video yet, but they’re “leaning towards doing some sort of skit.” 

Fornadel said her group has done plenty of learning while working on this project so far and that it’s mostly consisted of researching and brainstorming. 

“We all had sort of a base knowledge, but we definitely had to do research,” Fornadel said. “We had a couple classes where that’s all we worked on, just because they gave us the misconception, but they didn’t give us what the right answer was, so we had to figure that out for ourselves.”

Apart from his students learning from this project, Jackson said this project will also serve as a learning process for NASA. They’ll be investigating if creating these videos helps the student-creators learn about the topics as well, Jackson said. 

Although winning the video challenge is the main goal, Jackson’s students said there’s also motivation in the opportunity itself.

“I mean, it’s not guaranteed that we win, but just that we have the opportunity to have something that we make be seen by NASA is pretty cool,” Glago said. 

Contact Carley Welch at welchcw@dukes.jmu.edu. For more coverage of JMU and Harrisonburg news, follow the news desk on Twitter @BreezeNewsJMU.