For the past couple of years, we have taken PLP 11 down to Hanford, Washington to the Manhattan Project National Historical Park as part of our Manhattan Project2. The driving question for the project was: how did the development of the atomic bomb affect the lives of those living in the Hanford area and what role did they play in ushering in the atomic era? As the product, students create “History in 5”, a video in which they explore some of the hidden stories around the Hanford site and answer the driving question with five different facts around a theme of their choice.

Since these students have been in PLP for four years and working with the iPad throughout those four years, they are familiar with the iPad’s tools and techniques for learning. However, the Everyone Can Create Video guide was a great reminder for the students and taught us some new techniques that aided the students in completing their final projects with strength. 

One Group’s MindNode Brainstorming

Before we went to Hanford, much as we did with the grade 9’s and their ghost town videos, we had students complete a full storyboard in preparation. This time the grade 11’s created animatics, as we did with our grade 10’s. It gave students time to prepare fully for the on the ground interviews and stand-ups.

Izzy’s Plan for Success

We also spent time in the guide in Chapter 4 since there are some new features on the iPad that even our 11’s the iPad veterans were surprised about. First was the ability to use Pages in presenter mode as a teleprompter. Students really liked this on the field study as no matter where we were, their small groups could work together, professionally – with one student holding an iPad as a teleprompter and another using a second iPad for filming. Finally, we had a great reminder of the importance of B-roll by looking at the ability to use jump cuts and overlay to improve the quality of the final cut. 

  • Alex takes some footage of our excellent tour guide at the National Historical Park.
  • A group works in front of the abandoned Hanford High School.
  • Spencer and Kate smile at a viewpoint.
  • The class takes a class at Reed College!

As Sam reflects, “I think this stage actually helped me more than I thought at first because it really put what we were going to create into a product that I could see and visualize rather than just think about. I could figure out timing, and where ideal spots for interviews would be”.

At the sites, students were set to go and got busy recording. It takes a lot of work to produce a true documentary as these groups did and we hope you enjoy their creations as much as we do! As Izzy concludes, “This unit got me thinking of what the world is really capable of”.