Viral Video

And videos about viruses.
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First, a contest on YouTube that may give new meaning to “viral video.” Thanks to a blurb on the NJ blog, I see that Novartis Vaccines (a pharmaceutical company) is sponsoring a “FluFlix” contest to show how the flu is spread and why. Unlike the amateur Super Bowl commercial contests, details are just a little sketchy here: videos must be uploaded to YouTube between September 15th and October 26th; there are three categories on how the flu is spread among kids, in the work place and through sports; and there is a $500 prize. You have to be at least 18 to enter, so that eliminates all but our most senior high school students.
However, I am reminded of some of the clever projects the science teachers at my former school came up with. Using the commercial and PSA (public service announcement) formats, there were several different assignments that gave their students a creative stage to share what they learned about a particular germ or illness. After the tsunamai in Thailand a teacher had her students research the diseases that might surface in the aftermath and then make commercials asking for volunteers to come and help fight that particular malady. Another teacher would give an assignment just before the winter holidays asking students to make a PSA on some childhood disease. Then the whole class would vote on which PSA was the best. Each film team had kicked in a couple of dollars in the beginning and the teacher would match it to donate to the research organization of the winning video. And after “Osmosis Jones” came out we saw a few “Fantastic Voyage” (great opportunity for the green screen!) type of videos too.
You don’t have to use special effects to get a powerful message across. A few of you may remember a spot for Jerry Lewis’ telethon. Jack Palance at his ominous best, dressed all in black, slowly walked across a stark set talking about how muscular dystrophy affects children. In the last shot he touches a child on the shoulder and you realize that he is the disease. Anthropomorphization! But that’s a topic for another day…

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