ePals Corporation, an education media company and Global Learning Network, announced the launch of its inaugural Junior Folklorist Challenge in partnership with the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. The challenge is one of several planned activities stemming from the ePals-Smithsonian partnership, which is designed to extend the global reach and student learning opportunities around the Center's annual June-July Washington D.C.-based Folklife Festival. Now open to kids eight to 18 worldwide, the challenge asks participants to examine a local or regional tradition through the eyes of a community tradition bearer and create a video, podcast or slide show to share the story.
Cultural traditions students might explore range from dance, games and handicrafts to cooking, storytelling, customs, distinctive jobs, and more. Comprehensive supporting materials reinforce real world folklorist skills by defining terms, providing examples, tips, and organizational tools, and walking students through professional interview and story-shaping processes. Participants also have access to Smithsonian professional folklorists.
"The challenge is designed to inspire students and promote critical thinking through in-the-field research that explores the richness of local traditions and unique stories of tradition bearers," says ePals CEO, Katya Andresen. "ePals is delighted to join forces with the Smithsonian to offer this original and exciting challenge for students around the globe."
Accompanying teacher or parent materials include lesson plans, global collaboration opportunities, a standards-alignment chart and scoring rubric. The process reinforces a range of 21st-century skills, including the use of digital technologies, and U.S. and international social studies, language, and interdisciplinary curriculum standards.
"The junior folklorist challenge invites children to see their communities in new ways and to actively participate in preserving traditions for later generations," says Michael Atwood Mason, director of the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. "We believe this collaboration will extend the reach of the Smithsonian Folklife Festival and engage millions of students in cultural heritage around the world."
The challenge deadline is May 26, 2014, with winners chosen by a panel of Smithsonian and ePals judges. Among the prizes for student winners whose entries best demonstrate the folklorist process of investigation and reporting are a publishing opportunity in ePals Media's Faces magazine, digital video cameras, box sets from the Smithsonian Folkways collection, and more. For details and a submission form, visit: www.epals.com/challenges/folklife2014/ .