Five Fabulous Video Tips for Aspiring Young Scientists

by Kim Moldofsky, The Maker Mom

We’re closing in on the big finale of the 2015 Young Scientist Challenge, which means that it’s time to start planning for the 2016 competition. In the coming weeks, I’ll share tips to help aspiring young scientists present the best entry possible for the coming year’s competition.

Five Video Tips from America’s Top Young Scientists

I scoured the archives to find top tips from previous Top Young Scientists. Below you’ll find the best advice from the people who have what it takes to come out on top: Melissa Rey (2008), Marina Dimitrov (2009), Liam McCarty (2010), Deepika Kurup (2012), and Peyton Robertson (2013).

1. Choose a Passion Project

All the winners spoke of the important of passion. Enthusiasm for the topic will shine through on your video and make a positive impression on the judges. Teachers, introducing Genius Hour to your classroom is a great way to help students explore an area of passion.

Past winners also suggest selecting a local problem, something that you can easily investigate and act upon. For example, although it would be exciting to develop a prototype to prevent asteroids from colliding with the Earth, a device to keep dangerous snakes out of your yard might be more easily tested and make you a neighborhood hero.

2. Communicate Clearly

Ultimately, though, the judges are looking for more than a science cheerleader. Contestants must show themselves to be competent science communicators. Have you researched your topic? Can you explain your idea in one sentence? If you can’t, then trim it down until you reach that mark.

3. Create a Script

Take time to develop a script or a more visual storyboard. These tools help organize your thoughts. There’s always room for bit of spontaneity, but planning out your words, actions, music and creative visuals ahead of time makes the recording process more efficient. It helps you save time editing as well.

4. Ready, Set, D’oh!

Ensure that your equipment is working before you start to record your video. The process might take longer than you expect, so be sure that the batteries are fully charged. Also make certain you know the file type required for your editing program and what format. Be sure the music you plan to use is permitted—generally this means only using music you create or music you have explicit permission to include. Review the full contest rules to ensure that you’re on target with your content.

5. Get By With a Little Help From Your Friends (Teachers and Parents)

Congratulations! You’ve narrowed your scope, scripted out your video, and you’re ready to submit it…almost. Before you click that Submit button, hold a screening for a handful of trusted advisors to get feedback. You might even create a sample rating sheet to help solicit constructive feedback that will help you take your video to the next level.