Civic Literacy and Video Creation!

For a wonderful integration of student created video and government or civics class content consider the annual C-SPAN StudentCam documentary contest 

“C-SPAN's annual national video documentary competition that encourages middle and high school students to think critically about issues that affect our communities and our nation.

We're asking students in grades 6-12 to create a short (5-6 minute) video documentary on a topic that relates to the competition theme, "If you were a newly elected member of Congress, which issue would be your first priority and why?”

The submission deadline for all entries is Friday, January 20, 2023. [See 2024 dates in comment below] With cash prizes totaling $100,000 each year, C-SPAN awards prizes to the top 150 student documentaries. If you are a teacher and listed as an adviser on one of the top 50 winning films, you will also receive a cash award. 

Also, if you would like us to mail you a FREE printed version of our 12"x 18" StudentCam competition poster to display in your classroom, please complete this form: Poster Request.(Google Form)”


C-SPAN StudentCam Poster
C-SPAN StudentCam Poster

A Story

In 2004 C-SPAN introduced a student film contest CampaignCam, now called StudentCam. I gave the information to my students and encouraged those who were interested to participate. 

In February of that year, Gavin Newsom, then mayor of San Francisco, directed that same-sex marriage licenses would be issued at City Hall.  On the designated day, which was a rainy February 12th, a long line of couples formed around City Hall hoping to finally be wed.  One of my students, camera in hand, took this opportunity to interview couples who were in the line.  What resulted was a meaningful and beautiful story.  His video captured a prize in the StudentCam contest that year and was aired on C-SPAN.  The educational lessons and impact went far beyond the classroom.

In the years since, many of my students have participated in the StudentCam Documentary contest as well as many other film festivals.  They didn’t always take away a prize, but they always enjoyed, were engaged and learned from the process. And with the increased excellence of video and sound capture with iPhone and iPad, along with the shooting and editing capabilities in iMovie, creating a documentary is no longer beyond the technical reach of students. 

Share your experience with student film contests?

Student involvement in local, state, national or international video contests adds so much to learning across all curricular areas. What contests or film festivals do your students participate in?  What historic moments might they have captured? 

Please list film festivals and share your story about student participation and learning in film contests.


All Comments

Posted on September 25, 2022

This looks like a great motivation competition for students, shame it isn't in Australia!

Posted on June 19, 2023

Here it comes, the 2424 Student Cam Contest from C-SPAN. Due January 19, 2024, plenty of time to get your student documentarians and CBL activities going around these prompts:

A) In the next 20 years, what is the most important change that you would like to see in America? 

Detail a specific issue that is important to you and the evolution of related policies, laws, and actions that you want to see In the future.

- OR - 

B) Over the past 20 years, what has been the most important change in America? 

Examine a specific law, event, or invention, explain its impact and why it is important to you.

Student Cam Information here. This a wonderful contest for young filmmakers and learners wanting to participate in civic literacy.

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