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Genre Documentary filmmaking competition
Frequency Annual
Location(s) United States, Guam
Years active 2006-present
Participants Middle school students (grades 6-8)
High school students (grades 9-12)
Patron(s) C-SPAN

StudentCam is an annual competition selecting the best video documentaries on current-affairs topics created by middle and high school students. It is sponsored by the Cable-Satellite Public Affairs Network's (C-SPAN) Classroom project.[1] All winning documentaries are available to watch on the StudentCam website. The top 25 winners are interviewed for television broadcast and have their documentaries aired on C-SPAN.[2]


The aim of the competition, as stated by C-SPAN, is to provide an opportunity for young people to voice their opinions on current events.[3] Middle and high school students can compete alone or in groups of up to three, entering a video documentary between 5 and 8 minutes in length, which presents more than one side to the selected topic and includes related C-SPAN programming.[1] Each year a new theme related to current affairs is provided, and competitors must use this as the basis for their entry.[4] Subjects have ranged from video game violence to illegal immigration.[2]

Eighth grade students from McKinley Middle Charter School in Racine, Wisconsin discuss their 2010 grand prize-winning video, I’ve Got the Power.

The deadline for entries is in January each year[5] and the StudentCam winners are announced live on C-SPAN's Washington Journal, usually in March each year.[6] Following the announcement, the top 25 entries are shown on C-SPAN,[7] one documentary each weekday morning, accompanied by a telephone interview with the student filmmakers.[2] All of the winning documentaries are available on the StudentCam website.[2] The winning filmmakers receive cash prizes typically totaling $50,000, with the grand prize-winner receiving $5,000, in addition to being featured on C-SPAN. As of 2010, 75 entries each year are chosen as prize-winners, and 11 teacher awards are given to teachers who incorporate the competition into their classes.[6]

The sponsor of the StudentCam competition is C-SPAN Classroom, a free membership organization providing teachers with C-SPAN materials for classes and research.[6] Promotion of the competition is often supplemented by local cable providers.[8]


The StudentCam competition developed from a documentary competition called CampaignCam, run by C-SPAN during the 2004 presidential campaign as a way of including students' views about the election. The StudentCam forerunner won a Beacon Award in 2005, conferred by the cable industry for excellence in communications and public affairs.[9]

In 2006, StudentCam was launched by C-SPAN, adding a requirement that students include relevant C-SPAN programming.[1] The 2009 competition received the most entries to date, when nearly 2,000 students[1] from 41 states, the District of Columbia and Guam[3] submitted a total of 921 submissions.[10] The grand prize winner of the competition, Sawyer Bowman, a 10th grade student from Davidson, North Carolina was congratulated by President Barack Obama via a specially-recorded video message.[3] A first-prize winner in the 2010 competition, Matthew Shimura, met First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House in April 2010 during a town hall meeting for her "Let's Move!" initiative, to talk about fighting childhood obesity, which was the subject of Matthew's video.[11]

Grand prize winners[edit]

Year Students Film title
2006 Anthony Hernandez and Dustin Gillard Anywhere USA[2][7]
2007 Zach Chastain, Bryan Cink and Ryan Kelly Jupiter or Bust: The El Sol Solution[12]
2008 Scott Mitchell and Nick Poss Leaving Religion at the Door[13]
2009 Sawyer Bowman Cancer. It's Personal[3]
2010 Madison Richards, Samantha Noll and Lauren Nixon I've Got the Power[14]
2011 Carl Colglazier The Great Compromise[15]
2012 Matthew Shimura The Constitution and the Camps: Due Process and the Japanese-American Internment'[16]
2013 Josh Stokes Unemployment in America[17]
2014 Emma Larson, Michaela Capps, and Sarah Highducheck Earth First, Fracking Second[18]
2015 Anna Gilligan, Katie Demos and Michael Lozovoy The Artificial Wage[19]
2016 Olivia Hurd Up to Our Necks[20]
2017 Ava and Mia Lazar The Tempest-Tossed[21]


  1. ^ a b c d Amanda Lynn Porter. "C-SPAN StudentCam 2010". School Video School Video Systems, Inc. Retrieved 11 November 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Patrick Gavin (17 May 2006). "Students tune in through film". USA Today. Retrieved 12 November 2010. 
  3. ^ a b c d Michael H. Hodges (24 November 2009). "C-SPAN lets area students have a voice". The Detroit News. 
  4. ^ Anne Pick (13 January 2010). "Behind the Lens: Local teen filmmakers tackle C-SPAN's StudentCam Documentary Contest". The Source Weekly. Retrieved 11 November 2010. 
  5. ^ "C-SPAN Student documentary contest open". The State Journal. 17 October 2009. Retrieved 12 November 2010. 
  6. ^ a b c "Latham, NY Student Wins Third Prize in C-SPAN's National StudentCam Video Competition". 24 March 2009. Retrieved 11 November 2010. 
  7. ^ a b "Rep. Walz Congratulates C-SPAN Documentary Contest Winners". US Fed News. 7 May 2007. 
  8. ^ Charles Lussier (10 October 2009). "C-SPAN promoting student documentaries". The Advocate. 
  9. ^ "2005 Beacon Awards: Education: Full Campaign/Single Activity; Cable Network III". Multichannel News. 9 May 2005. 
  10. ^ Emily West (20 March 2009). "C-SPAN surprises PMS students with award for StudentCam video entry". Pleasanton Weekly. Retrieved 12 November 2010. 
  11. ^ Andrew Malcolm (7 April 2010). "Michelle Obama explains how the First Family fights fat; Now, yours can, too". L.A. Times Top of the Ticket. Retrieved 12 November 2010. 
  12. ^ "C-SPAN Announces Winners in 2007 "StudentCam," a Political Student Video Competition". eSchool Media Inc. 8 May 2007. Retrieved 16 November 2010. 
  13. ^ Alexander Carpenter (19 February 2008). "C-SPAN's StudentCam Winner: Leaving Religion at the Door?". Spectrum Magazine. Retrieved 12 November 2010. 
  14. ^ Lindsey Fiori (10 March 2010). "McKinley students win national documentary competition". The Journal Times. Retrieved 16 November 2010. 
  15. ^ "C‐SPAN Announces Winners of 2011 StudentCam Video Documentary Competition" (PDF). C-SPAN. 9 March 2011. Retrieved 19 September 2011. 
  16. ^ "C-SPAN StudentCam 2012 Winners". C-SPAN. 7 March 2012. Retrieved 28 November 2014. 
  17. ^ "C-SPAN StudentCam 2013 - Winning Videos". C-SPAN. 6 March 2012. Retrieved 28 November 2014. 
  18. ^ "C-SPAN StudentCam 2014 - Winners". C-SPAN. 5 March 2012. Retrieved 28 November 2014. 
  19. ^ "StudentCam 2015 Competition - Winners". C-SPAN. 4 March 2015. Retrieved 5 February 2017. 
  20. ^ "StudentCam 2016 Competition - Winners". C-SPAN. 9 March 2016. Retrieved 5 February 2017. 
  21. ^ "StudentCam 2017 Competition - Winners". C-SPAN. 8 March 2017. Retrieved 26 March 2017. 

External links[edit]