Lights, Camera, Action!: How to Create Your Own Campaign Video

This November, citizens of the United States will be given the privilege to vote for the next American president. Politicians hire consulting firms, and campaign management companies to help them develop the most affective strategic plan in order to get them elected.

The objective of this lesson is to teach students about campaign management.

Biodiversity and Ecosystems with Bill Nye

Students explore biodiversity and identify the importance of biodiversity in maintaining ecosystems by watching and discussing an episode of Bill Nye the Science Guy.


What If? Writing Alternate Histories in Pop Culture




By imagining how things could turn out differently, we can sometimes reflect deeply on how things really are. 

There seem to be more and more video games, TV shows, movies, and other media about alternate histories—these are “what if?” style stories that imagine how changes in the past would affect the future. From comic book series like East of West to TV shows like Amazon’s The Man in the High Castle (adapted from a Philip K. Dick story), many authors imagine how history would have turned out differently if important events hadn’t happened or had turned out differently. These authors use counterfactuals, a way of thinking that goes against known facts and events, to develop intriguing stories that are somewhat similar to our world but different in important ways.

Alternate histories, works of fiction, still tell us a lot about the world we live in. By imagining how things could turn out differently, we can sometimes reflect deeply on how things really are. Some things we take for granted—our government, the way our society works, or our everyday lives—might have been very different with some key changes in the past. In The Man in the High Castle, the Axis Powers won World War II and divided up America under fascist rule. In video games like Fallout, you have a first-person look at how the future might change as a result of changes in the past. Even comedies like the classic Back to the Future and Hot Tub Time Machine series find creative storytelling opportunities in alternate histories.




In this lesson, you will learn more about alternate histories and will use your solid grounding in historical fact to write creative historical fiction about recent events in pop culture and society. What happens when you follow the chain of consequences from one tiny change in the past to a new, exciting, and possibly frightening future?


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Star Wars: Should Fan Fiction be Added to the Star Wars Canon?

Canon is the material of a story that is accepted as official and is decided upon by the creator of the story or the person or business that owns the story.

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What’s Wrong With The Star Wars Prequels?

Before Star Wars exploded into the franchise it is today, it started with three movies: A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. A whole universe of stories written by a whole slew of authors branched out from these movies. Then the official prequels were made. There are many diehard fans who hated the Star Wars Prequels; the boring plotlines, the demystification of the world, and the overuse of green screen and CGI. Above all, the poorly developed characters are widely considered to be George Lucas’ worst offense. Since the celebrated release of The Force Awakens and the upcoming release of Rogue One, there has been a rise of positivity around the prequels. This may be because fans want to protect the Star Wars franchise.


Can’t Keep The Stories Straight? You Need A Canon!

Star Wars is just one of the many epic franchises out there. Star Wars, like a myriad of other celebrated stories such as the Avengers, Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter have inspired numerous official and unofficial prequels, sequels, and spin-offs. These narrative creations have taken a variety of forms; from fan-fiction and fan YouTube videos to television series, video games, and books. With so many elements and sub stories, it can be difficult to keep up with the real storyline and know what the creators, owners, and fans actually consider the true plot and subplots for the franchise. This confusion is why canon is needed! Canon is the material of a story that is accepted as official and is decided upon by the creator of the story or the person or business that owns the story.



We Think You Can Do Better

A lot of fans think that the Star Wars prequels spoiled the rest of the series by demystifying the working and fleshing out characters with dull uninteresting stories, character motivations and morals. Many people have postulated ways in which the prequels could have handled the characters and their storylines better, which has created whole new set of sub-stories and subplots.

Characters in any story must be, above all else, believable and consistent. And as a story grows and evolves the characters must do the same whilst retaining those qualities. In Star Wars Episode VII, The Force Awakens, we see the return of old characters and, though they have changed in many ways, we can understand how they got to that place and why their past decisions led them there. When writing about characters, respecting their consistency is integral to broadening their stories. In this lesson we will look at the Star Wars franchise in more detail and go beyond to create our own franchises with their own ever evolving cast of characters.


Create Your Own Celebrity Ice Cream Flavor!

Ben & Jerrys is one of the premier ice cream companies in the United States. They are constantly producing new flavors inspired by celebrities and current events. Ben & Jerrys has managed to remain on the cusp of creativity for over 30 years. The objective of this lesson is to teach students how to create a business plan for a new, creative product.

What Can We Do About Gun Control Laws in the US?

In this lesson, students will brainstorm about what they can do to encourage the US government to enact stricter gun-control laws, and they will take action by engaging with the means of communication closest to them, and by getting in touch with their peers and political representatives. With what seems to be an increase in the frequency of mass shootings in the US, students have plenty of thoughts and reactions.

The Elements of Product Placement

The objective of this lesson is to have students look at existing product placements with a critical eye and develop a product placement plan for an existing product.

Product placements in movies and television shows have become quite a common practice in media. Companies commonly use product placements to promote their brands in an unconventional and sometimes hidden way. If you pay close enough attention to any movie or TV show, you can probably spot a few cleverly placed products ranging from sports drinks to electronics to clothing brands. An example of product placement can be seen in Steven Spielberg’s hit movie E.T. with his inclusion of Reese’s Pieces and television shows like American Idol, which has Coca-Cola logos strategically placed throughout the competition.