Special to The CS&T

GLENSIDE – Lisa Ortolani, the technology teacher at St. Luke the Evangelist School, says she is always searching the Internet for projects that might interest students.

“I knew the teachers were talking about doing a classroom project for the year,” said Ortolani, who holds a master’s degree in instructional technology from St. Joseph’s University and is now in her eighth year at St. Luke. “The previous year we did public service announcements on Internet safety. When I saw this, and that they were going to give us nice software, I thought it would be perfect.”

“This” was Sony’s “Technology in Motion” nationwide contest.

Sony, in partnership with the International Society for Technology, sponsors the event that involves making a short film with software (Sony Vegas Pro 8) provided for the schools. The theme for the contest was “Life in 2050.”

“It’s a glimpse into the future, how students see society,” explained Corrinne Upton of Vault Communications, which is handling public relations for the contest.

The films, to be judged on technical and creative merits, had to be submitted by March 31. The finalists for $50,000 in prizes in laptop computers, camcorders and software will be announced in late May. St. Luke was the only school in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia to enter, said Upton.

The two eighth-grade classes at St. Luke each worked on a five-minute film and both were entered. Kelly Anne Foley’s class of 21 students entered “Pad City,” which looked at future cities based on giant lily-pad structures. Heather Sutherland’s class of 20 students entered “A Day in the Life of a 2050 Teenager.”

The process of producing the films began by introducing the students to nanotechnology, which according to the American Heritage Dictionary of Science, “embraces many different fields and specialties, including engineering, chemistry, electronics, and medicine, among others, but all are concerned with bringing existing technologies down to a very small scale, measured in nanometers. A nanometer – a billionth of a meter – is about the size of six carbon atoms in a row.”

Brainstorming sessions on the new technology with the students followed. “Then we did something as simple as watching ‘The Jetsons’ to think of ideas,” Ortolani said.

Students produced a script for each film. Some volunteered as actors, while others worked on directing, production, editing and the musical score.

“Students did all of the writing,” said Foley. “They took it and made it their own.”

Film clips of different scenes were shot throughout the school. Then editors worked in the computer lab to produce the finished work.

Pauline McNamara, Nicola McDermott and Caroline Dunn were the editors on “A Day in the Life of a 2050 Teenager.”

Kathleen Doyle, Ian Trauffer and Tara McGillian were the editors on “Pad City.”

“I never worked with any software, especially this high-tech, and so at first it was difficult to understand,” Doyle said. “I knew what I wanted to accomplish but I wasn’t sure how. Then, after working with some of my classmates, we figured how to accomplish what we needed to do and we edited the film. Each person had a special topic about future technology; what the future will bring. We shared what we found; we tried to use as much of people’s information as we could to develop a script.”

The students visited Chestnut Hill College’s library for research. They found sources that would bolster the “Pad City” project. Farms would be in towers, for example. The students wanted to incorporate into the script medical advances and what schools would look like in the future.

“It was one giant pad for an entire city,” Doyle said. “The idea was to save space so the buildings were thin and tall instead of short and wide. You had to save space so you could fit everything you needed for a city on one pad.”

The project, started in September, became a collaborative learning experience.

“It was fun,” Doyle said. “If I had to make another film with Sony technology I could. I learned that our environment is constantly changing, and the future is actually closer than it seems.”

Students in Heather Sutherland’s class that produced “A Day in the Life of a 2050 Teenager” are: Margaret Cline, Stephen DiCicco, Caroline Dunn, Amanda Hershock, Catherine Hughes, Matthew Huntowski, John Kehres III, Evan Kretschman, Kiera Mahoney, Mark Manero, Nicola McDermott, Christine McIntyre, Pauline McNamara, Jake Meizinger, Timothy O’Neill, Caroline Patton, Vincent Penecale, Bridget Polansky, Joseph Pritz and Shannon Regan.

Students in Kelly Anne Foley’s class that produced “Pad City” are: Gerald Amodei, Maura Angiolillo, Kathleen Cassidy, Ashleen Doyle, Kathleen Doyle, Sarah Doyle, Eileen Dugan, Gabriel Dwyer, Juliana Hart, Owen Kelly, Teresita Liebel, Tara McGillian, Timothy McNiff, Daniel Nedbal, Jacob Ross, Riley Slusarski, Joseph Sobolewski, Holly Szlachta, Ian Trauffer, Alison Waters and Grace Woehrle.

Jim Gauger is a freelance writer and a member of St. Luke the Evangelist Parish, Glenside.