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Xploration Station, Fox TV Stations’ three-hour block of STEM programming for teens and their families, has announced its first #StudentExplorer Contest, giving high school and college students across the U.S. the chance to explore the world with Philippe Cousteau Jr., grandson of legendary explorer Jacques Cousteau and host of the Xploration Station series Xploration Awesome Planet. The contest winner will accompany Cousteau on an underwater voyage to locate and study whale sharks off the coast of Mexico. Students can apply by posting video entries to the Xploration Station Facebook page, which will accept submissions until Sunday, April 23.

“This is a unique opportunity to engage students in a real world experience that promotes both STEM and ocean conservation,” said Steve Rotfeld, president of Steve Rotfeld Productions, which produces all six series that compose the Xploration Station block. “We believe that contests like this can inspire those interested in pursuing careers in science.”

Students between 16 and 22 years old can apply by posting a video of up to three minutes long to the Xploration Station Facebook page. The video should explain why it is important to explore and understand how the planet works, how the underwater expedition would make them better explorers and citizens of Earth, and why they should be selected as the first ever #StudentExplorer. The winner will be announced on Facebook shortly after the April 23 deadline.

This is the third consecutive year Xploration Station has given young people enthusiastic about science and exploration the chance to pursue their interests through a hands-on learning experience. In previous years, the #StudentAstronaut Contest, which debuted during Xploration Station’s premiere season, allowed contest winners to train like an astronaut alongside Xploration Outer Space host Emily Calendrelli, a Harvard scholar and former NASA scientist.

Xploration Station comprises six series in total: Cousteau’s Xploration Awesome Planet, Calandrelli’s Xploration Outer Space, artist and futurist Chuck Pell’s Xploration Earth 2050Youtube star Steve Spangler’s DIY Sci, marine biologist Danni Washington’s Nature Knows Best, and Weird but True, hosted by Charlie and Kirby Engleman, produced in partnership with Nat Geo Kids.

Many of these series were recently nominated for this year’s Daytime Emmy Awards, and Fox TV Stations recently extended Xploration Station’s run through 2020. The entire block airs in more than 100 million homes nationwide on Saturday mornings and is available to stream on Hulu, Amazon Prime, Yahoo View, and Roku.

Learn more about the #StudentAstronaut contest, including full contest terms and conditions, and watch the video below:


Anand Varma, National Geographic photographer

In partnership with the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS) in Bangalore, India, National Geographic photographers helped organize and lead a workshop for early career biologists interested in sharing their work through photography. The Shoot for Science workshop, funded by National Geographic Society and run by science photographers Anand Varma and Prasenjeet Yadav, ran for 8 days at NCBS in February 2017 and brought together a cohort of 16 Indian research fellows, Ph.D. candidates, and post-docs to study the art of storytelling in science.

India is currently undergoing increased investment in science and technology, providing a timely opportunity for scientists to communicate their research not just with the academic world, but with the greater public as well. By reducing focus on standard technical jargon and exploring other forms of communication, scientists can demystify their work for a wider audience and inspire young students to embrace scientific literacy. Photography is unique in its ability to help scientists both collect and communicate their data, and doing so without misrepresenting the scientific process lies at the core of Varma and Yadav’s workshop mission.

Using cameras and other equipment provided by Nikon, the 16 participants worked in groups to develop and create a photo narrative around research done by scientists at NCBS. They learned various techniques in basic photography and controlled lighting, received feedback in photo editing sessions, heard from Nat Geo experts, and gave final presentations after being coached in public speaking. “It was a great learning experience. Starting from how to think of communicating a story to how to use a camera—it was all new to me,” said participant Ipsa Jain, a Ph.D. candidate in cellular biology at the Indian Institute of Sciences.

Varma is a regular contributor to Nat Geo; his work tells the story behind the science of everything from primate behavior and hummingbird biomechanics to amphibian disease and forest ecology. Yadav is a trained molecular ecologist turned science-photographer who combines his research experience and photography skills to tell stories of exploration and conservation. He’s represented by National Geographic Creative and is currently producing a story on how mountains play a role in special evolution in India’s Western Ghats. Together, they hope to create a consortium of scientific storytellers in India and are working to expand the Shoot for Science program across the country in the coming years.


John Landgraf, Diversity Awards

FX Networks and FX Productions CEO John Landgraf was honored with the Corporate Leadership Award at the T. Howard Foundation’s 24th Annual Diversity Awards Dinner on Wednesday, March 29, in New York. The fundraising event recognizes and celebrates industry leaders and companies committed to diversifying the media and entertainment industry. John was presented to the evening’s attendees by Emmy Award-winning actor Courteney B. Vance, who played the role of Johnnie Cochran in FX’s “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story.”

During his remarks, John recounted how 18 months ago, FX found that 88 percent of its original-series directors were white men, which was incongruous with the fact that white men make up just 36 percent of the U.S. population.

“We decided to take concrete steps to radically and quickly increase the participation of underrepresented groups with the ranks of our directors,” John said. “And our guess was that doing so would improve the overall quality of our work. We were right.”

During the past year-and-a-half, FX has boosted the percentage of non-white-male directors from 12 percent to 57 percent. “After making this change, the overall quality of our episodes has gotten better, resulting in the FX networks breaking nearly every record in the history of basic cable for programming success, awards recognition and critical acclaim.”

John also looked back at his life journey and noted the advantages he received by being born a white, heterosexual male, which presented him with a simple choice: “I can continue to take the path of least resistance, bestowing the benefits of my advantages primarily on others who naturally cross my path, who not-so coincidentally also often share my gender, sexual orientation and ethnicity… Or, I can actually try to live up to the as-yet unfulfilled promise given to all Americans by our founding fathers in our Declaration of Independence: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men (and I will add women) are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, among them Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.’”

He challenged businesses to look for “merit that lies beneath the surface of a person’s ethnic, sexual or gender identity.”

“I have been proud to work with my FX colleagues and our many producers who have embraced our efforts to open doors for people who have been standing at the back of the line for too long,” John said as he thanked FX Networks head of current programming Jonathan Frank and his team for recruiting and promoting diverse talent.

John also praised 21CF Executive Chairman Lachlan Murdoch, 21CF CEO James Murdoch and FOX Networks Group Chairman and CEO Peter Rice for their dedication to making sure the organization comprises colleagues from all walks of life.

“Now that we have shown that real, rapid and permanent change is possible, we challenge all of our competitors to catch us if they can.”

The T. Howard Foundation’s mission is to increase the diversity in the media and entertainment industry through a comprehensive recruiting program for diverse college students. Learn more about the nonprofit.


Hidden Figures

In celebration of February’s Black History Month and March’s Women’s History Month, 21st Century Fox and AMC Theatres invited schools, community groups, and non-profit organizations to apply for special screenings of Academy Award-nominated Hidden Figures. Over 7,000 groups applied for free screenings, resulting in approximately 3,500 free tickets distributed across the U.S.

The winning groups represent a diverse range of organizations, from Girl Scout clubs to college STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) initiatives to public elementary and middle schools. The powerful story behind Hidden Figures has made waves around the world and is encouraging young women, especially young women of color, to follow their dreams and pursue studies and careers in STEM.

The film—starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monáe—tells the 'untold' story of three African American female NASA mathematicians during the Space Race of the 1960's. Hidden Figures was nominated for three Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and Best Supporting Actress for Octavia Spencer’s portrayal of Dorothy Vaughan. Hidden Figures continues to inspire audiences across the country, with over $220 million in box office receipts and a Home Entertainment DVD release on April 11, 2017.

“We at 21CF were inspired by the grassroots movement to bring this film to audiences that wouldn’t otherwise be able to see it—audiences that might include future innovators and barrier-breakers—and we wanted to support and extend that movement,” said Liba Rubenstein, 21CF’s Senior Vice President of Social Impact.

Meet the Hidden Figures free screening winners:

  • 75th Street Elementary School; Marina del Rey, CA
  • CCEO YouthBuild; Torrance, CA
  • Booker T. Washington Senior High, Astronomy Magnet Program; Miami, FL
  • COPE Center North High School; Miami, FL
  • Jack and Jill of America; Orlando, FL
  • John Hopkins Middle School; Tampa, FL
  • Teen Girls in Tech, YWCA; Atlanta, GA
  • Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta; Atlanta, GA
  • Off the Street Club; Chicago IL
  • Chicago Youth Programs; Chicago, IL
  • Thread; Baltimore, MD
  • EMBODI Male Mentoring Program, Delta Sigma Theta; Baltimore, MD
  • Kingdom Kare; Columbia, MD
  • East Kentwood High School; Grand Rapids, MI
  • JJ Hill Elementary School; Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN
  • Urban TEC; Kansas City, MO
  • Crossroads Corp.; Charlotte, NC
  • Quail Hollow Middle School; Charlotte, NC
  • Ranson IB Middle School; Charlotte, NC
  • Coulwood STEM Academy; Charlotte, NC
  • Brooklyn Democracy Academy; Brooklyn, NY
  • The Campus/Social Work Diva; New York, NY
  • Marie Curie School for Medicine, Nursing & Health Professions; New York, NY
  • Brian Piccolo Middle School; Harlem, NY
  • The Jewish Board Mann Center-RTF; Port Chester, NY
  • Moms2B at OSU; Columbus, OH
  • Noble Academy; Columbus, OH
  • Breakthrough; Philadelphia, PA
  • Gilbert Spruance Elementary School; Philadelphia, PA
  • Harmony Community Development Corp.; Dallas, TX
  • Rice University IBB Girls STEM Initiative; Houston, TX
  • West Seattle YMCA 21st Century Community Learning Center; Seattle, WA
  • Milwaukee Community Cyber High School; Milwaukee, WI

 

This is the second set of free screenings organized by 21CF and AMC Theatres across the U.S. 21CF also recently completed “The Search for Hidden Figures” contest to uncover the next generation of female leaders in STEM fields, and gave over $200,000 in scholarships and awards to encourage young women to pursue careers in STEM.


Unique Lodges of the World, National Geographic

Launched in 2015, the National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World is a collection of 55 world-class hotels spanning 30 countries and 6 continents that offer guests rare experiences with parts of the world that not many get to know. Each lodge is deeply rooted in its community and dedicated to protecting surrounding ecosystems and cultures—and harnesses their vitality to safeguard them for the future. On March 27, National Geographic released the first Sustainable Tourism Impact Report, compiled from data from each of the member lodges that measures the impact of their practices, from use of renewable energy to protecting endangered wildlife. The report details this impact and highlights stories about some of the innovative sustainability projects at the lodges, and serves as inspiring proof that tourism—when done thoughtfully and carefully—can be a powerful force for good in the world.

To join the Unique Lodges of the World cohort, each interested property underwent a rigorous on-site inspection by the National Geographic Sustainable Tourism team, who reviewed their operations based on the four pillars of sustainable tourism: protection of natural heritage, protection of cultural heritage, support for local communities, and environmentally friendly practices. The launch of the collection and release of the report is particularly timely, as the United Nations recently designated 2017 as the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. The UN’s goal, embedded within the universal Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals, is to motivate the travel industry and bolster tourism’s role in inclusive sustainable economic growth, resource protection, cultural conservation, and conflict resolution. The Unique Lodges of the World Collection’s core mission aligns with this goal, and the report demonstrates how tangible results are already being produced.

In less than two years, lodge collection members have rehabilitated and protected over 3.7 million acres of land and sea, referred to as their collective conservation footprint. They have given over $76 million in direct contributions to historic and cultural site preservation, which lies at the heart of National Geographic’s mission to embrace and protect all aspects of heritage, from language, music, textiles, and art to landmarks, architecture, and sacred sites. Having invested over $3 million in community initiatives, the lodges support education, health, and small business development, and they are actively engaged in reducing waste, recycling materials, and cutting carbon emissions—these efforts have diverted over 3 million pounds of waste from landfills around the world.

“When travel is done the right way—the sustainable way—then local people and visitors alike benefit from the power and promise of travel to alleviate poverty, protect nature, and safeguard cultural heritage for future generations,” said National Geographic’s Costas Christ, Senior Advisor for Sustainable Tourism.

Learn more about the  Unique Lodges of the World and read National Geographic’s Sustainable Tourism Impact Report today.