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Students Are Stars at White House Film Festival

<p>Kids will be rubbing elbows with science stars and getting a peek at a new "Cosmos" during the White House's first Student Film Festival.</p>
Image: White House watching
President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, are among viewers who watched the 2009 Super Bowl in 3-D in the White House family theater.Pete Souza / White House file

There'll be plenty of golden statuettes at Sunday's Academy Awards, but if you're looking for golden opportunities, keep your eye on Friday's first-ever White House Student Film Festival.

The festival showcases the Obama administration's "ConnectED" campaign to bring next-generation broadband and wireless technology to 99 percent of the nation's students within five years. President Barack Obama will discuss the progress made so far — and announce commitments from Adobe and Prezi to contribute more than $400 million in software to classrooms.

The invited students, parents and teachers will see a sneak preview of the new "Cosmos" TV series, set to premiere March 9. They'll rub elbows with science stars such as "Cosmos" host Neil deGrasse Tyson and Bill Nye the Science Guy. Science-savvy actor Kal Penn, talk-show host Conan O'Brien and the American Film Institute's Bob Gazzale will also have roles to play.

But the real stars of the show will be student filmmakers. Last November, the White House set up a competition for short films created by K-12 students to show how technology is used in their schools and how technology's role in education will develop in the future. More than 2,000 videos were submitted, and the 16 finalist videos will be screened as "Official Selections" during Friday's festival.

There's a YouTube playlist for the Official Selections, and another one for the 128 videos receiving honorable mention. One of my favorites shows how the classroom of the future could work (although for a classroom of the future, it still looks as if there's a lot of typing on virtual keyboards rather than synthetic telepathy):

"PIP" is a cool little tale about a boy, his tablet and a mission to the moon:

I love "Hello From Malaysia" because it shows how technology can bridge cultural gaps:

Here a quick rundown of all the Official Selections:

The festivities get under way at 3:30 p.m. ET in the East Room, and will be streamed live via the White House website.