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Skills & Knowledge

Video contest introduces students to mining

Inspired by famous Canadian scholar Marshall McLuhan’s observation that the medium is the message, the Ontario Mining Association launched a video contest late last year to educate an unlikely audience about the mining industry.

The “So You Think You Know Mining?” video contest was a way to reach high school students who are interested in video making, music, or script writing, but may know very little about where the components in their computer come from, or about the different mined resources that make up the materials for many of the fundamental tools used in daily living.

“We were trying to give young people in Ontario a better understanding of the industry, what it does and what it means to them as individuals,” said Peter McBride, the Ontario Mining Association’s manager of communications. It was also an effective awareness campaign in light of the industry’s aging workforce and predicted workforce shortages once the market turns around.

The contest ran from October 24, 2008 to March 31, 2009, and in true “student” fashion, the entries poured in just before the midnight deadline. A total of 37 videos were submitted. Winners were selected in five categories: Best Overall Entry ($5,000), Best Directing ($2,500), Best Original Screen Play ($2,500), Best Original Score ($2,500) and Best Comedy ($2,500). OMA members provided the cash incentives, which for many high school students could be equivalent to the earnings from a summer job.

Website

In order to reach this fairly new audience for the mining industry, a separate website (linked to the OMA’s website) was created and all the information and resources were provided electronically. A blog was available for those working on their project to reach out to others having similar queries. The contest was marketed electronically in order to get the message out using a medium that high school students know best.

The winning entries were chosen by four judges: Jessica Grillanda, co-ordinator for the broadcast news media program at Cambrian College and CBC International radio producer; Nick Pagee, co-ordinator, Youth Learning, for the Toronto International Film Festival Group; Dennis Watson, vice president and general manager of CTV southwestern Ontario; and Jack Blum, a well-known Canadian writer, producer, director, educator and actor. Dominique Dionne, vice president corporate affairs for Xstrata Nickel, assisted the judges to ensure accurate mining information and to answer any mining-related questions. The winners could not be revealed at the time of publication.

“This is a video contest, not a mining contest,” McBride explained. “While the subject matter is mining, the students are being judged on their script writing, filming and music adaptation, so we wanted them to be judged by people who are in that business.”

McBride believes the OMA accomplished its goal of increasing awareness about the mining industry. The entries came from a broad cross-section of communities, with approximately 75 per cent from southern Ontario. Only 25 per cent came from Northern Ontario mining-oriented communities. He finds those results encouraging because it is “hitting a lot of people who didn’t know much about mining.”

CIM conference

McBride described the quality of the videos as mediocre to brilliant. The winning videos were presented at the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum’s conference and exhibition in Toronto on May 10 and are also available for viewing on the OMA’s website.

McBride hopes it will become an annual contest.

“It’s been fun doing this kind of contest because it is different for us in mining,” he said. “This is a different way to reach out to a younger audience and help them learn something about our industry using modern technology and in a way teenagers communicate with each other.”

www.oma.on.ca

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