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Apr 6, 2022
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This is a challenge that asks you to play with our ever-emerging understanding of ‘writing.’ There are numerous new literacies out there – ways of communicating that are mainstream. Texting. TikToks. Instagram Stories. Photographic Essays. Vlogs. Stop Motion. Twitter Debates. YouTube videos. The list goes on. In this Challenge you are going to pick three different literacies and tell three 30 to 60 second stories about the same idea. What are these stories about? Why, writing itself! Your choices are: Literary Devices (for example, Foreshadowing, Irony, or Metaphor), Archetypal Characters (for example, the hero, the outlaw, or the ruler) and Literary Genres (for example, comedy, tragedy, or mythology). Pick one of these categories (Literary Devices, Archetypal Characters, or Literary Genres); choose one element from your select category; and finally pick three literacies. Then explore how each literacy allows you to discover new ways to express different facets of the same idea.
Graphic novels are a unique genre of literature. They are distinguished by the use of both words and images to convey meaning. In fact, in many graphic novels, it’s the image that conveys more information than the words. No other literary genre works in this way. Secondarily, the images in question, generally speaking, are drawn very simply. This stems from the simple figures that adorned comic strips, from which this literary genre is derived. It’s also a matter of economy: there is not a whole lot of space in a frame to put much detail. Simplicity becomes the driver of complex storytelling in this genre. Finally, graphic novels can be about …anything! Society, silliness, politics, teen angst, superheroes, science fiction…even, the environment!
In this Challenge, you will create a chapter of a graphic novel in which you feature a new environmental law and a character’s adventures around that law. This chapter should run no more than 20 frames. With this limitation in mind, this challenge is asking you to present just a scene or two from a larger story. Your graphic novel chapter can be in color, or black and white: it’s up to you. Your final deliverable is a frame by frame presentation with voice over and sound effects, including music if desired. But here is a small catch: the image of a bicycle must appear four times throughout your story. It can be obvious or partially hidden, but it must be there. Be creative and have fun with this!
Create a pitch film to convince the local school board to install a new work(s) of public art that will cost $25,000. The public art should be designed to reflect the character and identity of your school and be significant (even inspiring) to the students, faculty, and community. You are attempting to bring something interesting, evocative, stimulating, thoughtful, inspiring, unique, and meaningful to the citizenry of your region.
This Challenge begins with research about:
The Challenge continues with exploration. What is art designed for impact? How is public art different from private art?
The design needs to reflect at least two different elements of the history or character of your school and your team must include at least one interview in the pitch. The design cannot include or make a reference to the school’s mascot.
It goes without saying that these are very challenging times. From the pandemic to climate change, the war in the Ukraine to the meteoric rise of disinformation, there is a feeling of heightened anxiety characterizing the start of this decade. For many, one of the best weapons we have at our disposal to combat anxiety and societal discomfort is …humor.
Humor – particularly ‘dark humor’ which is about finding ‘funny’ amidst the ‘unpleasant’– can help people cope with the anxiety and fear of a stressful situation. This Challenge is straight forward and has an altruistic quality to it: create a short digital story that addresses a source of global or regional anxiety using humor, … and help bring a little laughter into the world.
One critical source of historical knowledge comes from the period illustrations. Each illustration – from portraits to battle scenes; family gatherings to famous moments in history - when analyzed, reveals telling details about attitudes, status, traditions, emotional states, fashion trends, and, above all, in the pre-photographic age, what people really looked like, famous and otherwise.
In this Challenge, you will select a picture from a time or moment in history that you are studying and bring to life one, two or three characters from that illustration. As they figuratively step out of the frame, they will tell us the story of the picture. That’s Part I. This Challenge then asks your team to imagine these characters at dinner – audio only - that evening discussing one critical historical event of the time period. In short, you will create a radio drama that features your characters from the painting engaging with a seminal historical event of the time period. Are they politely discussing the event and how it affects their lives? Or, are they plotting to undo the events that have occurred? That’s your call. The best place to start this Challenge may be with a visit to …your nearby art museum.
Someone from the science lab rushes out wide-eyed, saying, “Somebody help! Something happened in the lab!” But how could that have happened and who can help them solve this mystery??!!
In this challenge, it is your task to both set up the problem AND to solve it. What really happened in the lab? Did something go missing? Did something happen to one of the lab techs? And who is going to solve it? A detective? A student? A passerby? When you solve it, be sure to explain how. Was there any documentation of what went on? What evidence did you use to figure out what happened?
The solution must involve either 2-3 well-explained chemical reactions of some sort, or it must involve 2-3 physical forces (e.g. gravity, electric, magnetic) OR, it can involve both. Your team will explain the mystery and your solution in a 3–5-minute podcast, which begins with the problem, sets up the mystery of how the problem occurred, and then tells the story of how the problem was solved.
Welcome to the Shakespearean Soliloquy Shake-Up in which students will produce a video of a re-imagined soliloquy from Shakespeare.
What is a soliloquy? A soliloquy, as defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is “a long, usually serious speech that a character in a play makes to an audience and that reveals the character's thoughts.” Soliloquies are often spoken to oneself and never to or in front of other characters.
Soliloquies allow the audience a glimpse into the character’s mind: their motives and how they think. William Shakespeare excels in the use of soliloquies. He allows us access to the minds of characters like Iago from Othello, Hamlet from Hamlet, and Juliet from Romeo and Juliet.
While soliloquies are, in themselves, individual, Meridian Stories is turning it into a group activity. Your task is to:
Your team is challenged to create a story in which a superhero of your own creation spreads awareness about financial literacy. The purpose of this story is to educate your peers on the importance of smart spending, budgeting, low risk investing, and saving. The superhero should have a superpower relating to financial literacy. And of course, because this is a superhero story, there must be a villain.
Your story should reference these four components of financial literacy, but you can focus your plot around just one:
Since its inception, the United Nations Security Council has had five permanent member countries: China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. With their veto authority, each of these permanent members carries enormous power over UN deliberations.
The world has changed significantly since the end of World War II when the UN was formed, and the victors granted themselves permanent seats and veto authority. Now more than seventy-five years later, the map of global economic and political power looks very different. The permanent members of the Security Council no longer represent the modern geopolitical reality, and many argue that it is therefore hampering real progress in the UN’s deliberations.
Let’s assume that the current Security Council has agreed (under global pressure!) that they should be expanded and are ready to accept two new countries. Your challenge is to pitch those two new countries, to the five permanent Security Council members who are poised to vote. Your video cannot exceed 150 seconds.
The mystery literary genre is one of the most disciplined and exacting forms of storytelling in the world. And for exactly that reason, it’s also one of the most popular and compelling. In short: it’s a blast. In this Challenge, you will set up a mystery and begin to lead us down a path shaped by suspense and disbelief, toward resolution. Characters, setting, motives, red herrings, suspects, and clues will abound, fully re-imagined. To bring this all to a fast conclusion, in the last thirty seconds, you will jump to the final page of the story, dissolve the cinematic world that you have created, and read us the resolution, as if we had all just turned to the final page of your story.
This Challenge is all about story and how to tell a good one. It is Meridian Stories’ belief that if you know the essential elements that comprise story; can identify the specific elements of story to which you are most attracted through this practice of story creation; and can create a cohesive and compelling story, then you and your team have a good chance to succeed in life beyond school. And there’s nothing like the mystery genre to push you into the discipline and joy of storytelling.
…and one more thing. There are two categories of entry for this: This can be a video digital story or an audio digital story: a radio drama. Your call.
They engage children all the time, …and teens and adults. What are we talking about? Video games. But what are the original gaming models that set this industry in motion? Which games launched this invaluable and culturally seismic industry that has infiltrated the global psyche of humanity? That is what we are going to explore in Python Playtime!
In this Challenge, you are going to a) choose a game from the early days of gaming and research some of its history of origin; b) recreate the programming of that game (or as much as you can); and then c) tell us the story of both the game itself and your experience re-creating it through code. Python Playtime is a documentary intended to tell the story of the history of your select game, as informed by your experience re-creating the code that made that game spectacularly popular. You and your team are both on the outside looking in (the historical research) and on the inside looking out (the coders and game re-creators).
The classic court room drama is a story that is told about a good guy, who is often a little powerless, going up against a bad guy, who holds the power. In this Challenge, you are going to discover a moment in history where justice prevailed (against all odds) - in court - and re-tell that story. There will be three main characters: the two opposing lawyers and the judge. The team can add witnesses and other sundry characters, but essentially this asks you to present the arguments that each side put forward and then summarize the judge’s final judgment. Oh, and one more thing. The final verdict must be …sung.
What kind of stories can be told here? Here are a few examples:
Another source for stories could come from tapping into seminal Supreme Court decisions where, in your view, justice triumphed over evil. The final deliverable is a dramatic re-telling of the case, with a focus on the decisive arguments that won the case, and the rollicking verdict that sealed the triumph.
Pick a moment in history where a country’s democratic institutions were upheld, strengthened, and fortified. It may help to think in terms of voting rights; free speech; representative government; rule of law; checks and balances; an independent judiciary; and the right to protest. There are many pathways into our understanding of ‘democracy.’
Find your way to a historical moment – from a moment yesterday or back to the country’s founding - when that country’s ever evolving grip on democracy was put on a firmer ground. And create a celebratory TikTok about that moment. One last requirement: at some point in your story, the visual action will stop, and the following three to five seconds will be filled with wordless sound or music only. Then carry on.
This Challenge is written with the United States and its relationship with democracy as the central idea, but your TikTok story can be about any democratic nation in the world.
Don’t litter! Recycle that! Turn off the lights when you leave the room! How many times do you hear these phrases? Probably quite often. There is a wide array of problems concerning our environment, many of which can feel overwhelming and impossible to solve. However, small actions such as throwing away trash in an appropriate manner, recycling, and conserving energy, when possible, can add up to make a significant difference.
Over the course of a day, think about how many of these actions you do take (probably more than you realize) that are environmentally motivated. Your task is to create a vlog-style video taking your audience through a day in your life where you emphasize the environmentally friendly actions you take. But let’s push the boundaries a little. Find three new environmentally friendly actions to take that you would not normally think of over the course of your day and implement those as well. Here's a way to help you organize this. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has designated categories for action called Climate Connections. The categories are: air, transportation, energy, waste, and water. Use these categories to help you categorize the actions you already take, as well as the new actions that you are going to promote in your vlog. Try to aim for a total of six to eight actionable steps, with a minimum of one in each of the five categories. You can do more if there is room. Label in your video which action applies to which category and be sure to research how these actions impact the environment and find creative ways to communicate this inside of your vlog.
A vlog is a type of video designed to take viewers on a journey. Soooooooo, take us on the journey throughout your team’s day and show us how the little things really do add up when it comes to saving the environment.
The stories we choose to tell and to read are full of twists, turns, ups, downs, and ultimately, endings that leave us thinking. This challenge asks you to place yourself directly into the final moments of the world of a book you are reading, and then leap into the future. Imagine you are on a news show reporting on the events of your book immediately after the final chapter. Including an interview with one or more characters in this story, film a newscast detailing what has just occurred at the end of the story - be sure to include select details about the story itself and the character’s journey - and then answer the question, “What’s next?”