Powering Education

Solar Schools Video Contest

$2,000 in prizes | Entries due Oct. 6

The Contest

 

Calling all 6th-12th graders! Make a video to tell your school's solar energy story or convince school leadership that going solar is a good idea!

  1. Create original short video

  2. Submit by midnight Oct. 6

  3. Judges select winners

  4. Prizes announced Oct. 12 at MnSEIA Conference

 

Let's get people inspired about solar!

You have an awesome vision and voice and we want you to share them with your classmates, teachers, friends, family, and others at your school and in your community! Here are some things that inspire us about solar energy:

  • Solar energy technology can provide hands-on education.
  • Solar energy is good for the environment.
  • Solar energy can help your school save money.
  • Solar energy careers offer a bright future for students.

What inspires you? Feel free to connect solar to other issues like renewable energy, sustainability, the environment, education, the economy, food and agriculture, and more.

Erica
Erica
Bjelland
Regional Development Planner
Region Five Development Commission
Alicia Belton
Alicia
Belton
Principal
Urban Design Perspectives
shelli-kae
Shelli-Kae
Foster
Program Manager
Youth Eco Solutions (YES!)
megan
Megan
Weck
Senior Education Coordinator
Climate Generation
michael
Michael
Cartwright
Physics Teacher
Mounds View High School
kristel porter
Kristel
Porter
Executive Director
Minnesota Renewable NOW
Peter Lindstrom
Peter
Lindstrom
CERTs Manager of Public Sector & Community Engagement
UMN Extension RSDP

Why are schools going solar?

Saving Money

The cost of solar panels has dropped 65% over the last decade, and schools can avoid the upfront investment and ongoing maintenance requirements through third-party ownership.

Education

Access to solar allows students and teachers to connect STEM education with new technology on school grounds and with one of the fastest growing job markets in the state.

The Environment

Solar schools offset an estimated 1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide annually, equivalent to the greenhouse gas emissions from nearly 221,000 cars.

Leadership

Schools are at the center of the community. A solar array is a great way to communicate that sustainability is a key value and inspire others.

Answers to frequently asked questions

You do not need to have solar at your school to participate in the video contest, we're just hoping that you can educate people about solar energy at your school in some way.

  1. Plan your video content

    tip1.png

    Believe it or not, the content of your video matters a lot more than its quality. That’s not to say quality isn’t important—it sure is! But if you had to give one aspect more attention, time and energy, it would be planning your content properly. To plan your content, consider the following three video tips:

    1. Outline your goal
    What are you looking to achieve with your video? Are you trying to make people laugh or inspire them (or both)? Are you trying to teach people about solar? Are you trying to convince leadership that your school should add solar? Are you trying to get fellow students interested in careers in renewable energy? Define your goal before moving on.

    2. Identify your target audience
    You can’t possibly target everyone in the world, because then who are you really talking to? Not having a clear vision of your ideal viewer groups will result in a diluted message within your video content. Your audience will determine the way you write your script, the way you shoot your video and the way you edit it. Think of who in your school and community you want to be seeing this and how the video could be useful outside this contest.

    3. Use the power of emotions
    Emotions are what drive viewers to follow through with your call to action (in this case something about solar energy). It’s been proven over and over again that emotions triggered by content are what drive the motivations to carry through with calls to action. Think about what your audience really cares about and tap into it.

  2. Pick the right background

    tip2.png

    The background for your video should never be an afterthought. It’ll help tell your story and send your message. It will also affect the quality of your video. The background you choose will depend on the type of video you’re producing, your goals, and your audience. The main two types are:

    Real Backgrounds
    These include a real-life environment such as outside or inside your school, in front of a solar installation, or from a favorite outdoor location. Some people see this option as the easiest because you get to work with what you’ve got. Just make sure it’s not distracting, loud, messy, or completely off topic for your video.

    Fake Backgrounds
    These backgrounds include green screens, curtains, or papers. Fake backgrounds are great for consistency. Green screens are specifically great because they allow you to replace your actual background with anything you want. However, they are hard to set up and work with, and aren’t recommended for beginner video creators.

  3. You don't need to buy a new camera

    tip3.png

    Don’t stress too hard about which video camera to use, especially if you’re first starting off. While you might feel compelled to spend a lot of money on a high-quality video camera, it’s really not necessary in the beginning of your video-making career when you don’t even know if this is something you will continue doing. Finding a decent camera to shoot quality videos isn’t hard these days. If your school doesn't loan out video cameras and equipment, you probably know someone with a camera you could borrow, or you have a smart phone in your pocket that takes great video. For example, the music video below was shot entirely with an iPhone X.

     

  4. Avoid using your camera's mic

    tip4.png

    The audio of your video can make or break your content, and there are a few simple things that you can do to save the integrity of your video’s audio quality. The best way to capture audio from your subject is to use any microphone other than your camera's built-in mic. It’s not the end of the world if you have to use your camera’s mic, but the difference in quality is noticeable.

    Whether the microphone you decide to use is on the subject’s body or on a boom, make sure that it's appropriately placed. If it’s attached to clothing, put it in a place where it picks up all the right sounds (the person’s voice), but doesn’t pick up miscellaneous sounds from jewelry, fabric rubbing or heavy breathing. If you’re using a boom, make sure it’s close enough to the subject to pick up their voice, but also be sure it’s out of the frame.

    Before filming, always test the sound to make sure you’ve got all of the above set up correctly. For someone with no prior audio experience, that’s usually the only way to make sure you’re getting it right.

  5. Use natural lighting

    tip5.png

    Video production lighting is a whole system that requires more equipment than I’m sure you have at the moment. The good news is natural lighting actually works best in photography and filming, and is the most guaranteed way for you to nail the lighting in your videos.

    It’s best to shoot outdoors on a cloudy day, or during the golden hour (an hour after sunrise or an hour before sunset). In those three conditions, the natural light is so soft and cinematic that it won’t make your subject squint, and no harsh light will be hitting their face.

    What if it rains? Or what if you need your shoot to be indoors? Natural light is still your best bet. Pick a room that gets a lot of natural light through big or multiple windows. You can then add additional sources of light like ceiling lighting, table lamps and so forth to add more brightness if needed. Play and test the light with the subject’s position to see what looks best in video. In any case, make sure the subject isn’t facing the window directly or too closely, because that could possibly wash out your entire shot.

  6. Film in small segments

    tip6.png

    This will save you time and energy while both filming and editing. It’s much easier to film short takes, since you or your subject will have fewer things to remember and more opportunities to reshoot something you didn’t like. Focusing on segmenting your script into smaller takes will also force you to communicate your message more clearly and concisely. It will also give you more flexibility in post production to edit the takes however you want to into the final product, and it won’t come out looking choppy.

  7. Brush up on composition rules

    tip7.png

    You’ve probably heard a lot about composition related to still photography, which is equally as important in videography. Composition is the way you choose to frame your subject in the video you’re about to capture. The safest way to frame your subject is to follow the rule of thirds, which divides the frame into a three-by-three grid, creating intersections that are ideal areas to place your subject.

    Your subject should be placed at one of the intersections in your viewfinder, and their eyes should line up along the top line in the frame. Framing your subject dead in the center of the frame is usually a poor choice, especially for beginners, because you will end up with a lot of empty space in the top third of the frame. If your subject will vertically be in the center of the photo, at least be sure to align their eyes with the top line.

    Mind the head! Don’t have too much space above the subject's head, but don’t cut off the top of their head either. In big dramatic face closeups, if you must cut something off, let it be the top of the subject’s head, not their chins.
     

  8. Have fun!

These tips were adapted from a blog post.

If you've ever tried to create a video, you know that having decent tools is important for bringing together the clips, audio, titles, transitions, and other elements that make the magic happen.

Below we've listed some apps that we think could work well for your video. Some are free, and some are not. If the cost is an issue, we recommend talking to your school to see if they already have access to video editing software that you can use, like WeVideo or Adobe Creative Suite. There are also apps that come with devices, like iMovie on Macs, iPhones, and iPads.

Video editing apps:

Our judges will be looking to make sure that your video meets our contest rules, and that you've been creative and inspiring. The rest is up to you!

  • Determining winners: Our panel of judges will choose 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners.
  • Prize amounts:
    • 1st Place: $1,000
    • 2nd Place: $600
    • 3rd Place: $400
  • Awards ceremony: Winning videos be announced Tue 10/12/20 at MnSEIA Midwest Gateway to Solar Conference.
  • Prize money: Prize money will be distributed to the school as a donation from MnSEIA. We encourage the schools to use this funding to enhance and emphasize environmental and sustainability programming within the school. If there is a way for the video team and the school to work together on how the money is spent, that would be great!

We're glad you asked! All of the details about eligibility, video requirements, dates, and prizes can be found on our Rules & Prizes page.

Go to Rules & Prizes Page

If you have other questions after reading that page, you'll find contact info there to reach CERTs staff.

Get Inspired: Solar Schools & Youth Videos

Eligible Participants

  • 6th-12th Graders: Students from Minnesota schools, enrolled in grades 6-12 are eligible to compete.
  • School: Each school is eligible to win one (single) award.
  • Video Team: A team is defined as the group of students listed on the submission form, who are wholly responsible for the development of the video content. Teacher and staff assistance and participation are accepted, but creative vision should be student-led.

 

Video Requirements

  • Length: Your video must be between 30 seconds and 10 minutes to qualify, but we recommend videos shorter than 3 minutes (the more concise, the better)!
  • Message: We’re hoping that you can educate people about solar energy at your school in some way.
    • Solar energy can be a hands-on part of STEM education
    • Solar energy is good for the environment
    • Solar is helping your school save money
    • Careers in solar energy offer a bright future for students
  • Copyright: All material should be your own, original material. Follow YouTube copyright guidelines.
  • Keep it clean: Videos containing obscene language or content will be disqualified.
  • Approval: The video entry must be signed off on by the entrant’s school, which can be validated by including a School Official on the submission form.

 

Contest Timeline

  • Submissions Open: Tue 8/18/20 at 12:00 am Central
  • Submissions End: Tue 10/6/20 at 11:59 pm Central
  • Winners Announced: Tue 10/12/20 at MnSEIA Midwest Gateway to Solar Conference

 

Video Submissions

  • Uploading videos: Videos must be uploaded to YouTube.com and then submitted to the contest using the video URL. Videos must be public and must remain active on the user's account until (at least) December 31, 2023. Learn more about how to upload to YouTube.
  • Submission: Videos must be submitted using the website form here.
  • Timing: Submissions will be accepted between Tuesday 9/1/20 at 12:00am Central through Tuesday 10/6/20 at 11:59pm Central.
  • Number of Submissions: Each school district can submit one (1) video to the contest.

 

Winning and Prizes

  • Determining winners: Our panel of judges will choose 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners.
  • Prize amounts:
    • 1st Place: $1,000
    • 2nd Place: $600
    • 3rd Place: $400
  • Awards ceremony: Winning videos be announced Tue 10/12/20 at MnSEIA Midwest Gateway to Solar Conference.
  • Prize money: Prize money will be distributed to the school as a donation from MnSEIA. We encourage the schools to use this funding to enhance and emphasize environmental and sustainability programming within the school. If there is a way for the video team and the school to work together on how the money is spent, that would be great!

 

Questions?

You can direct questions not covered here to Dan Thiede, CERTs Communications Director, at thie0235@umn.edu.

Fill out my online form.

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Text you can share to spread the word

Calling all 6th-12th graders! Make a video to tell your school's solar energy story or convince school leadership that going solar is a good idea for your chance to win $1,000 in the Minnesota Schools Solar Video Contest! Entries due Oct. 6, prizes announced Oct. 12 at the MnSEIA Conference. Learn more at https://www.cleanenergyresourceteams.org/videocontest

Some images you can use

Animated graphic:

video-contest-cover-animated.gif

 

Still graphic: 

video-contest-cover.png

 

Simple graphic:

solar-school.png

Watch videos from past CERTs & MnSEIA Solar Video Contests in the playlist below, or explore them all here.

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