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Published: Wednesday, 4/20/2011 - Updated: 4 years ago

Northwood juniors' chemistry is elemental to winning video

Ben Slaughterbeck, left, and Zach Vickers, right, students of Geoff Milewski, center, in their Northwood High School chemistry lab, made a science-based video. Ben Slaughterbeck, left, and Zach Vickers, right, students of Geoff Milewski, center, in their Northwood High School chemistry lab, made a science-based video.
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Zach Vickers wants to study filmmaking. Fellow Northwood High School junior Ben Slaughterbeck is interested in animation and three-dimensional graphics.

Together, they put together a video about the element oxygen for a Chemical Heritage Foundation contest that won $5,000 for their school's science department.

Oxygen, they decided, was an element for which there was a lot of information on to make a video.

Calling themselves Z&B Productions, the juniors entered a nearly four-minute video centered around a "newscast" on 15.9994 Oxygen News, which featured Zach as anchor and Ben doing weather and sports. They and others were featured in clips and a commercial.

Anchor, weather, and sports bits were filmed at WTOL-TV, Channel 11, where a friend of Zach's father, Kevin Vickers, works.

"I thought it would be a good opportunity for me to make a video," said Zach, who heard about the contest from teacher Geoff Milewski in physics class last fall.

Ben, who was asked by Zach to join him in the project, said, "I thought it was cool when we got to see Channel 11's studio -- we got to see everything behind the scenes."

Northwood High School was the only Ohio winner to capture one of 11 prizes in the contest out of more than 700 entries. Plus, Northwood High School was among eight to receive $5,000 grants from Dow Chemical Co., while students from two schools were chosen as grand prize winners and another entry received a people's choice award.

Mr. Milewski told students about the International Year of Chemistry contest last fall when Jill Posta, a friend of his wife, posted a link on Facebook.

Mr. Milewski said that he didn't realize the Z&B Productions video was submitted until Zach told him weeks later, and once it was selected as one of 20 finalists, the teacher wrote an essay describing how the grant money would be used.

"I had the easiest part of the whole thing -- all I had to do was write a 500-word essay," Mr. Milewski said. "What I think is neat about this is they received no school credit for this."

Mr. Milewski added, "I think very few students would do that, just go out on their own and do something without the reward of credit."

Northwood High School, which has about 270 students on campus, will use the grant money to purchase six deluxe Vernier LabQuest chemistry packages, which include hand-held recorders and digital probes for experiments.

Chemistry students will use the data-collection equipment in labs, and the art department will use it to highlight some of the chemistry aspects of various art projects.

Both Zach and Ben, meanwhile, will be among the students using the equipment next year during advanced chemistry.

"It was really fun," Zach said. "It was a cool experience."

Their video can be viewed at chemheritage.org/discover/chemistry-in- history/its-elemental/ view-video.aspx?reserveID =300&elem=8.

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