PBS Invites Students to Create Their Own Zeitgeist Videos in Contest

By Todd R. Weiss  |  Posted 2013-12-09
student contest

PBS Invites Students to Create Their Own Zeitgeist Videos in Contest

Google's annual Zeitgeist list and video of the year's most popular online search terms is getting some competition this month. The PBS NewsHour Extra television program is asking students in middle and high school to create their own videos marking the year's biggest events for entry in a contest that runs through midnight Dec. 14.

The online digital media contest was announced recently by the PBS NewsHour show as a way for students to share their views about what were the biggest events and people in 2013, according to PBS.

"The #MyZeitgeist competition was made in partnership with Google and is tied to their annual 'Zeitgest' project—which highlights the biggest events of the year as seen through the site's search engine results," PBS announced. Zeitgeist is a German word meaning the "spirit of the times."

Google's Zeitgeist video montage last year was featured on its 2012 Zeitgeist Website, and included highlights of the year's most popular Google searches, such as Whitney Houston, Gangnam Style, Hurricane Sandy, the iPad3, Kate Middleton and the Olympics 2012, according to Google's annual list of the most popular global searches.

Students will be asked to create their own personal collections of the biggest events in 2013 in the NewsHour Extra competition. The winner of the competition will receive a Nexus 7 tablet from Google, and will be featured on YouTube's education channel and Google's Google+ page.

"The youth voice is often lost or ignored. Here is an opportunity to see what 2013 looked like through their eyes," Katie Gould, a teacher resource producer for NewsHour Extra, said in a statement. "The Zeitgeist project is a wonderful way for the vision and world view of America's young people to be seen and heard by a larger audience."

To create their entries in the contest, students will use the digital storytelling site, Meograph, which lets users create interactive videos that feature video, audio, pictures, text, maps, timelines and links, according to PBS NewsHour Extra.

To enter the contest, students should select seven to 10 news events from 2013 that they want to feature from a list of specific topics: science, entertainment, technology, the United States and the world, economic news, government and civics, social issues and special historic anniversaries, according to the contest instructions from PBS NewsHour Extra. "You don't have to use them all, but the best projects will not use too many from any one category," the rules state.

"Think back on 2013 and try to remember the events that made the news, touched people's lives and changed the world," the rules continue. "Your assignment is to research the most important events of the year and to share them through Meograph."

Entrants will have to find videos, pictures, audio and other information to build up each event, while ensuring that they are not using copyrighted materials in their entries, according to the rules. Every story in an entrant's video must include a headline, date of the event, short narrated summary, photos or video and a listed source, the rules state.

Entrants will use Meograph to build their entries on the NewsHour Extra Website, where they will find additional help to create their videos. Students can sign in for Meograph using Facebook, Twitter or Google+, and then can access their draft from any computer anywhere as they build their presentation. The deadline for all entries is midnight Dec. 14, so students need to get started.

PBS Invites Students to Create Their Own Zeitgeist Videos in Contest

A teacher must email the student's Meograph entry URL to PBS NewsHour Extra, as well as the teacher's name, so the teacher can be notified if the student's entry has won, according to the contest rules. "PBS NewsHour Extra, Google and Meograph will be judging the entries by how many views each Meograph gets" and by criteria including the newsworthiness of the featured events, the breadth of event coverage, the creativity and entertainment value of the entry, and the power of its images and video, according to PBS.

The winner will be announced and posted on the PBS NewsHour Extra site by Dec. 18. The winner of the competition will receive a Nexus 7 tablet from Google, and will be featured on YouTube’s education channel and Google’s Google+ page.

A spokesperson from PBS could not be reached by eWEEK on Dec. 9 for more details about the contest.

In Google's Zeitgeist for 2012, published online last December, Whitney Houston's volatile personal life and her tragic death in February topped the list of Google searches in 2012, both globally and in the United States. Coming in at number two in the global searches list for 2012 was the Gangnam Style dance popularized by YouTube sensation PSY, followed by Hurricane Sandy at number three, iPad3 at number four and video game Diablo 3 in the number-five spot. 

Google added several new features to the Zeitgeist list in 2012, including an interactive map that shows where and when some of the hottest terms spiked around the world. A Google Zeitgeist Android app was also being released. Google also unveiled its annual Zeitgeist video, which portrayed clips of the events and people that were the chart-toppers in search for 2012.

Rounding out the rest of the top 10 global searches for 2012 were Kate Middleton at number six; the Olympics 2012 at number seven; Amanda Todd, a Canadian teen who committed suicide in October after being the victim of vicious bullying, at number eight; actor Michael Clarke Duncan (the big actor from The Green Mile) at number nine; and the television show Big Brother Brazil 2012 (BBB12) in the 10th spot.

To create the lists, Google officials say they studied an aggregation of more than a trillion searches that people typed into Google Search over the year and then filtered out spam and repeat queries to come up with the top searches. All the information studied was collected anonymously and included no personally identifiable information, the company said.

The list also looks at "trending" Web searches this year, which are searches about hot topics that had the highest amount of traffic over a sustained period in 2012 as compared to 2011.

Among the top trending searches for 2012 were NBA player Jeremy Lin, who ranked first on the list, and Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner, whose free-fall jump from outer Earth orbit ranked him sixth on the list.

The Google Zeitgeist list was quite different in 2011, when one-hit Web wonder Rebecca Black, who sang the song, Friday, ranked first, followed by searches about Google's then-new Google+ service. Actor Ryan Dunn, the Jackass TV show star who was killed in an auto accident in June 2011, ranked third on that list, followed  by Casey Anthony, who was found not guilty in the death of her 2-year-old daughter, in fourth. The top five last year was rounded out by the release of the first-person shooter video game, Battlefield 3.

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