Media Musings

Every week, I co-teach engineering concepts to 4th graders by introducing hands-on activities. This is a video of me testing some of the projects (sail cars made of legos) created by the students. The video was taken by a 4th grade teacher and posted by the Center of Engineering Education and Outreach (CEEO). It was then disseminated through their Facebook page.

The goal of posting the YouTube video is to demonstrate the different activities that the CEEO brings to elementary schools. In particular, the video shows that through programs that the CEEO has elementary school students are learning how to create like engineers.

I definitely think that the video itself does not fully tell this story. An audience of the video might be able to discern that the individuals in this video successfully created hand-made cars that can be pushed by wind. However, the video does not show that the projects were created by groups of fourth graders. More importantly, it does not fully impart why these sail cars are important – that this activity is a learning experience for the 4th graders who created them.

The video as it is posted on the CEEO’s Facebook page includes a description of the activity. I think the description imparts the missing information, particularly because the description connotes that the activity was a challenge given to the 4th graders. This is consistent with the CEEO’s mission of teaching students how to solve problems like engineers.

This video is definitely an example of a piece of media that cannot reach its full potential and impart its message in entirety without surrounding context.