When I heard our Young Scientist Challenge lead judge, Jake Jacobs (aka Mr. Wizard IV), talk about “whelmers” in his webinar (archived here) my linguist heart went all a flutter. I just love a good play, twist or tweak on a word and that one does it nicely to describe his attention getting lead-ins to science topics. Just last week, I found myself using the term as I attempted to describe my philosophy of digital storytelling to the director of life long learning at Wilkes University in PA. He is in the process of guiding me through designing an online graduate course in digital storytelling that I will eventually teach. I was trying to explain that rather than show technically overwhelming, super, studio created examples, I like to find clips that make teachers and students say, “We could do that!” So, as we head into the summer break (I know, I know. Some of you will be teaching and working during the next 10 weeks or so) and as the video contest season winds down, I hope to do a bit of whelming as I review last school year’s contest winners and finalists. Hopefully, you will be inspired to say, “We could do that!” whether you actually enter a contest next year or not.

BTW, there is still time to enter AFI’s ScreenNation Hometown Challenge (June 30th deadline) and the Discovery and 3M Young Scientist Challenge (must be in by Fathers’ Day, June 15th). The YSC website has added a few more features to its Check It Out section that are worth a look for competitor and non-competitor alike. There are whelmers from balloon electroscopes to triboluminescence and science trips past finalists and winners have taken, learned from, and are now sharing.

Now my inquiring, linguistic mind just has to find out if a teacher teaches, does an usher ush?


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