East Haven Students Produce Short Film On Energy Conservation Lessons From Birds

Jun 3, 2014

Student Scott Krebs works to edit the short documentary.
Credit East Haven High School
"The documentary sends a message that everything we do has an impact on our planet."
East Haven students

A group of students at East Haven High School created a short documentary, “Weaving the Way: Lessons From the Weaver Bird.” The film recently won outstanding documentary short at the Connecticut Student Film Festival.

Students created the short film as part of an effort to think about everyday modern problems that affect the general public. They discovered an energy conservation lesson for homeowners by looking at the nests of the African weaver bird. Their film suggests that blue jean material might make good home insulation.

Watch the five-minute film below.

Students Duncan Bennett and Jacquelyn Humphrey work on sound production.
Credit East Haven High School

The film featured the camera work of students Miranda Garcia and Tyler SanGiovanni, was edited by student Scott Krebs, and includes music overseen by student Duncan Bennett. Teachers Jason Miles and Maria Pompano provided support.

The two co-producers for the film, Brianna Brown and Kelsey Foster, and the film's director, student Jose Magana, answered a few questions about the project. 

Heather Brandon: How did you get the idea for this documentary?

Students Brianna Brown, Kelsey Foster, and Jose Magana: We began by brainstorming a list of modern problems that affect our everyday lives. The problem we came up with was centered on making buildings more environmentally friendly and sustainable. We then had to tie the problem to a solution found in nature, a process known as biomimicry.  

We did some research, and found that the nests of the African weaver bird are biodegradable. As we were filming, we found an insulation made out of recycled blue jeans. This insulation is composed of cotton, making it biodegradable.

Students Scott Krebs, Duncan Bennett, and Jared Hoyt in the production room.
Credit East Haven High School

Weaver bird nests have two chambers in their nests, which help with heating and cooling issues, since still air in many ways serves as the best insulation. The blue jean insulation mimics this by trapping pockets of air between walls.  

The documentary sends a message that everything we do has an impact on our planet. Little steps we take to better our environment will leave a better world to inherit for future generations.

Who's your audience for the film?

Our audience is mostly targeted towards homeowners and the general public. We targeted homeowners because we wanted to educate people on more eco-friendly insulation materials.

We polled the teachers at our school, and found out that most of them use fiberglass, which is not good for the environment, or your health. We found out that the blue jean insulation was better for the environment and for your health. 

Student Jose Magana, left, with engineer Ken Sgorbati after their interview at Sgorbati's Hamden office.
Credit East Haven High School

We would like our film to be seen by as many people as possible so our message can get out there and make a difference. 

What happened that led to the award you received?

Our class on Digital Media and Moviemaking is a part of a program organized by Education Connection and the Center for 21st Century Skills called the Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences. Participating Connecticut high schools were challenged to make a five-minute documentary based off of responsible design. 

The documentaries were shown at the Connecticut Student Film Festival at the Palace Theater. The judges were professionals in the field of filmmaking. Our class competed against several other DM3 high school classes in the documentary category. 

What other films are you thinking about making, if any?

We created a 60-second trailer on the documentary. As a class, we are creating a silent film. Our director, Jose Magana, has plans to continue making documentaries that expose problems and innovative ideas.