4th Graders Use Green Screen Technology to Create Videos Highlighting Local Bird Research

As part of their integrated curriculum unit on the Chesapeake Bay—which incorporates science, Maker Tech, social studies, and language arts—teams of fourth grade students chose one of twelve local bird species and collaboratively researched how adaptations help the birds survive in their environment.

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Nina Austin, Academic Technology Department Head, Introduces the Bored and Brilliant Challenge

Chances are you are reading this message on your cell phone or mobile device as these amazing tools have become an essential part of our everyday lives. But did you know that the average person checks their device 150 times a day and it can take up to 23 minutes to get back on task after getting distracted by a single notification? 

Science tells us we do our best and most original thinking when our brain is in “default mode”—aka in a state of boredom; however,we are rarely able to tap into this brain power because our devices are very, very good at keeping us entertained. Social media platforms are actually engineered to hijack the mechanisms in our brains that let us know we’ve had enough, and constant connectedness is redefining expectations around work and productivity. We are living in a world where technology is evolving faster than researchers can study its impact upon us. 

Last year during a professional development seminar I attended at SXSW Edu, I heard Manoush Zomorodi and JP Connelly speak about the Bored and Brilliant Challenge.  I  was captivated by what I learned and immediately started thinking about the benefit of bringing the Bored and Brilliant Challenge to Key. In my role, I work closely with teachers day in and out as we carefully integrate technology into our program. There is great benefit in the technologies we have access to and I am excited about the opportunities for learning that they provide—I’m even occasionally called  “the iPad lady” by our youngest children. Most of us have come to rely on smartphones and tablets, as well as instant access to information and one another. What I found refreshing about the Bored and Brilliant Challenge is that it does not seek to vilify technology or call for people to abandon it, instead it seeks to create opportunity to pause, assess, understand, and rethink our relationship to technology as we ask ourselves if our dependence on our devices is actually serving us. 

To that end, Key School is asking all parents, faculty and staff as well as students in grades 5-12 to take part in the Bored and Brilliant Challenge during the week of February 25. 

This week-long experience will include a different challenge for us to undertake each day, such as Out of Sight Day, where you keep your device out of view, and Photo-Free Day, which entails a day without taking or posing for pictures. These challenges are designed to give us an opportunity to be more mindful of our relationship with our devices. Wherever you are currently, be it navigating your own device while raising young children or helping your older child navigate their device usage, we are all facing technology’s new frontier. 

On Wednesday, February 13 from 8:30-10:00 a.m., we will be presenting a Parent Education Program about Bored and Brilliant, explaining more about the Challenge. I will be joined by School Counselors and  members from the Academic Technology and Learning Departments  as we talk about technology’s impact on our lives and how we can, as a  community, “disrupt” the way we use our devices. As we get closer to Challenge Week, we will send additional details and add information to our Bored and Brilliant webpage. I hope you will be able to join us for the presentation and elect to take part in the Challenge.

Let’s all become a little more bored in order to become a little more brilliant. 

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