San Francisco Bay Area high school and middle school girls trained as videographers at a two-week workshop and produced the “Women In Science” video series, where they highlighted research performed by women scientists at NASA Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, California.

Sponsored by Ames, the University Affiliated Research Center (UARC), and the Girl Scouts of Northern California (GSNorCal), the “Be a STEM Videographer” workshop was held July 20 – 31, 2015, and hosted by Ames and the GSNorCal in Alameda. The workshop’s objective was to provide an opportunity for girls between eighth and twelfth grade to learn various video production roles on set and develop interview questions, storyboards, and shot lists.

The “Women in Science” series includes eight short vignettes featuring NASA scientists Wenoneh Vercoutere and Diana Gentry, and UARC researchers Linda Timucin, Elysse Grossi-Soyster, and Kamalika Das and Ames research areas: Data Analysis, Space Science, and Synthetic Biology. To view the videos, go to: GSNorCal’s YouTube page

“These girls did an amazing job; they were so professional. One of the girls has gone on to produce training videos for the Space Cookies VEX Robotics Team,” said Wendy Holforty, the Girl Scouts liaison and education specialist at Ames.

The crash course began with a workshop on pre-production that introduced the basics of lighting an interview and how to use the RED Epic Dragon digital cinema camera – the same camera used on such Hollywood films as The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, Gone Girl, Pacific Rim, and others. The RED Epic Dragon camera is also used on board the International Space Station. The girls even learned some math, when converting shutter speed to shutter angle and vice versa.

After the production workshop, the three teams of 5-6 girls took their new cinematic skills into the field where they spent a day interviewing their researchers. Once on set, they discovered the excitement of video production as they moved into a “lights, camera, action” mode, setting up cameras, microphones and lighting to frame the shots they wanted to tell their stories. When not in production, they visited the Ames robotics laboratory, where they participated in hands-on activities building and programming robots.

After the production phase, the girls moved into a post-production workshop where they learned the basics of using Apple’s Final Cut Pro X video-editing software. They edited and cut together their films for three and a half days.

On the last day of the workshop, the girls premiered their videos to a NASA audience of researchers, administrators, family and friends, and were awarded NASA certificates of completion.

Special thanks goes to Brett Casadonte, director of Creative Services of The Casadonte Group LLC, Santa Clara, California, and Jennifer Diaz, program coordinator of the STEM and environment program for the GSNorCal, for pursuing the idea of a girls’ STEM video production workshop.

In addition, special recognition goes to Maylene Duenas, UARC chief officer of technical research and assistant director for university research and development management; Angela Wray, director of UARC; Jean Fahy, GSNorCal program director of funded projects and partnerships; and Wendy Holforty, who were instrumental in designing, organizing and managing the girls’ video workshop.

“The girls learned about the valuable contributions women researchers are making at NASA. They [also] saw what a career in science and technology research is all about, and that these fields of research are very much open to women,” said Casadonte.