YouTube has honored PA Cyber student Alan Shimp, 11, of State College, Pa., and his dad Ed with a national award for the series of entertaining education videos they made about field trips taken over the past year. Alan's latest venture is making a video with a message for the next President as his entry into the annual C-SPAN StudentCam contest.
Alan Shimp works on his C-SPAN StudentCam contest video message for the next President
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - Regardless of whether Barak Obama or Mitt Romney wins the election, PA Cyber student Alan Shimp, age 11, will have a videotaped message for the next U.S. President. The message is: “reduce the national debt.”
“I’m going at it from the perspective of a child. If this national debt isn’t paid off, that’s taxation without representation,” said Alan.
Creating a video about serious cultural and historical issues is nothing new for Alan. Together with his father Ed, a professional actor, Alan has made a series of entertaining videotapes about historical and cultural field trips they’ve taken to sites such as Gettysburg and Niagara Falls.
The videos recently earned national recognition and a trip to California for Ed Shimp as one of YouTube’s 10 “Next EDU Gurus.” Entitled “Adventures of Ed and Alan,” the lighthearted but educational videos are posted on Youtube.
Alan currently is preparing an entry for C-SPAN's annual national StudentCam video documentary competition, and his theme is the national debt issue. This year, StudentCam entries are on the topic “Message to the President: What’s the most important issue the President should consider in 2013?”
Ed and Ginger Shimp moved from Chicago to State College, Pa., last year specifically to be able to enroll Alan in a cyber charter school so he could be accelerated and they could be involved in his education.
Alan wants to be a lawyer or politician. He is taking high school 10th grade classes and is active in PA Cyber’s gifted-talented program.
Ed and Alan Shimp’s educational adventures this year included waiting outside the U.S. Supreme Court in June to hear its decision on the legality of the Affordable Health Care Act. Alan was interviewed by a reporter from Mother Jones News to get a child’s perspective on the court’s 5-4 decision upholding the law.
About the high court’s ruling that the law forcing people to purchase health insurance is constitutional because it is a tax, not a mandate, Alan said, “Honestly, it confused me. I’m not sure how it can be construed as a tax. A fine for breaking a law isn’t considered a tax.”
Ed Shimp said he and his wife moved to Pennsylvania because they wanted Alan to be academically accelerated, but did not want him in classrooms with older students.
“Alan’s been advanced from the get-go, reading on a fourth grade level in kindergarten. I homeschooled him in the early grades but I said there is no way I can teach him trigonometry and astronomy,” “said Ed. “PA Cyber drew us into the state. That was the whole reason we moved to Pennsylvania. In Illinois there are no cyber charter schools. I grew up in Pittsburgh and went to Penn State. My wife works for a global enterprise software company and can work from anywhere. As an actor, so can I.”
Alan’s PA Cyber classes this year include Pre-Calculus, French 2, Biology, World History and English 10. He generally prefers the self-paced Lincoln Interactive classes, but takes some harder courses as virtual classes.
He has finished reading about half of Shakespeare’s plays, and participates in PA Cyber gifted-talented activities, including attending a Pittsburgh Public Theater production of “Around the World in 80 Days.”
In October, Ed Shimp was one of 10 people chosen as YouTube’s “Next EDU Gurus”for their efforts in creating educational videos. He and the other nine winners were hosted at a three-day summit in California that drew top educators, U.S. Department of Education officials, and technology professionals from companies such as Google.
“The message I tried to bring to the summit is that YouTube is something parents need to share with their kids,” said Ed. “They can go there and learn, and be inspired. Then at some point they need to unplug and let that inspiration take them to a zoo, or a museum, or a battlefield, or a concert. Finally, they need to come back and share their comments or make videos about their adventures to inspire even more students.”
Ed said the many field trips they have taken and made into educational videos, his own personal involvement in their son’s education, and Alan’s accelerated academic progress, all would have been impossible in a traditional bricks-and-mortar school.
“I am very passionate about this and I am grateful to PA Cyber,” he said.
(PA Cyber press release. Nov. 1 2012)