Serious Fun! Making Media to Study for SAT Exams

brainyflixlogoMar. 9, 2009 I’ll admit I had my doubts.

When Jack at MIT told all of us on the Classroom 2.0 hub that BrainyFlix was asking kids to make viral videos for pass around fun about SAT vocabulary words my first thought was reminiscent of Cosby’s comedy monologue with Noah and the Ark, “Riiiiiiight.”

Even with cool prize payola (free iTunes download for every 5 referrals or submissions, $600 in grand prize money: $400 to the school/club and $200 for the student) most of the teens I’m around are running on empty and time-crunched, particularly those studying for SATs! I could see mobile prep or flashcards maybe, but figured kids wouldn’t have time to watch, much less PRODUCE vocab videos…or read through contest rules. Yay, I was wrong! I think even Jack was a bit surprised, as he said:

“We’ve got claymation, beat boxing, old home baby movies, a kid in a banana suit, digital animation, romance, horror, a kid in a taco suit, history lessons, Halo machinima, political activism, and of course… good ole fashion comedy sketches. We didn’t think we’d get so many so soon!”

BrainyFlix has 450 student videos submitted already…Can we make it 600 videos going FOR  $600 by Monday, final submission day March 16? They’ve also just added a free visual learning tool in beta called ‘lolcabulary’ where kids make their own funny flashcards to match an image to a word and trigger word meaning and recall fast. I love the animal ones…

rockyWinsome: Cheerful; merry; pleasant…

“Rocky’s constant smile and pink goggles gave away his winsome nature.”

Or the easy to remember ones…

Invective: An utterance intended to cast censure, or reproach… “Fox TV show host Bill O’Reilly is infamous for spewing invectives.”

BrainyFlix has a word list of common SAT vocabulary, then kids pick one to interpret in a video themselves. They also have a BrainyFlix blog to sound off on favorites, find updates to the contest and all that…and the MITeach folks have links to Flickr photos to browse to jump start you on creating flashcards too.

schooltubeAs for logistics, if you prefer kids stay off of YouTube altogether (some schools/homes are in full filtered lock box) BrainyFlix has partnered with SchoolTube and they mention that sometimes if there are multiple uploads of the same word, they might take some down, so just contact BrainyFlix so viewers can ‘vote it up’ and resubmit it if need be.

As you can see below, I chose the word “didactic” to showcase, since most of the teens (including my own) have expressed at least a smidge of that feeling when it comes to certain teachers they just don’t…um…connect with.

So educators and edubloggers…this one’s for you akin to those don’t be caught ‘fashion don’ts’ with the incognito rectangles over the eyes of perpetrators…The ‘my way or the highway’ drill-n-kill is obviously a VERY fast way to burst the bubbles of burgeoning brainpower and youthful joys of learning…

bf-iconI’m frankly in ‘reteach’ mode for ‘unschooling’ much of the time just to get kids (re)jazzed about a subject that’s been beat out of them in ‘teach for the test’ mode…(sorry, parent rant there, and yes, I DO have a conference with a couple of “didactic” educators this week to see how we can create some workarounds and win-wins)

I strongly believe that stellar teachers can make a massive difference in how a subject is received…And sadly, I’ve seen kids literally go from A+ to F in terms of giveupitis and lack of desire to ‘be there’ when didactic becomes the norm rather than the exception.

Bravo, BrainyFlix…for finding fresh ways to engage kids with meaningful media…

Here’s to more projects like this one that make learning relevant and creative, not to mention fun!

One week left to get your submission in!!! Let’s hit 600 videos going for $600!

Didactic: Sample BrainyFlix Video Submission



  1. Update from Jack at BrainyFlix on Classroom 2.0 today:

    “Hey BrainyFlixin’ Educators! Way to rock the video submissions! 793 videos from your kids!!! That is absuuurd. Seriously, people! :] OK, I have some important info for you & the kiddies:


      Voting will begin on March 30 instead of March 23.

    This will shift everything back one week. I know, I know. Your kids have been telling all their friends and family to vote, but we desperately need the extra time to make sure all videos can be displayed clearly for voting. Our apologies, but we think you understand.

    2. Check BrainyFlix to make sure your video is up. We finished approving all submissions yesterday night, but if you don’t see your video get in touch with us ASAP.

    3. If you used another videoplayer instead of Youtube or SchoolTube, please use YouTube or SchoolTube and re-submit your video to us. For technical reasons which I can detail for you if you message me, not having your video on YouTube or SchoolTube is making it difficult for us to display it for voting. (Other videoplayers include Vimeo, TeacherTube, MySpace video, Facebook Video, Google Video, etc.)

    You guys are dying to get the voting started, aren’t ya??? :] We’ll get there soon. Promise. Alright, if you have any questions, please get in touch with us at

    This is gonna be awesome!!!


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