Fifth-graders from Plaza Vista School showcase the power of technology in Super Bowl ad


Well, Super Bowl XLVIII wasn’t exactly what we expected, but we’ll spare you our in-depth football analysis. We will say that we liked some of the commercials, and one in particular caught our eye.

If you’re among those who hadn’t switched over to the more-competitive Puppy Bowl by the fourth quarter, you may have seen the one-minute spot for Microsoft that demonstrated how innovative technologies are being used to empower users and overcome barriers. That inspiring ad, which we’ve posted above, happened to include brief cameos by Plaza Vista School students in Scott Bedley’s fifth-grade classroom.

At about the 20-second mark, three P.V. students can be seen looking at a computer, and about five seconds later, Bedley’s class is shown waving and saying “Hi!” to children from another part of the world. We’re not sure how many were watching at that moment, but the big game generally draws some 100 million viewers from nearly 200 countries.

So how did Irvine students end up in a Super Bowl ad?

The Plaza Vista portion of the commercial was actually filmed on Jan. 15 after the director spotted an intriguing Twitter comment from Bedley, who has been a local trailblazer in the use of educational technology.

Bedley, a 2014 Orange County Teacher of the Year, had sent out a Tweet about the “Mystery Skype” game, in which students teleconference with a class from another state or country and try to determine the whereabouts of their counterparts by asking yes-or-no questions. Geography and history are crucial components of the lesson, which also promotes research, collaboration and cultural awareness.

When Bedley indicated his students hoped to play the game with at least one school in all 50 states, Microsoft took note and offered to send out a film crew for an upcoming after-school session.

This kind of technological engagement could become more prevalent throughout IUSD, which recently adopted a comprehensive Technology Master Plan to serve as a road map for using high-tech tools to further instructional objectives. But for lessons like Bedley’s to be possible in multiple classrooms and at multiple sites, the district has said it will need to secure funding to rebuild its aging and outdated technology infrastructure.

Incidentally, Microsoft produced a separate ad that focuses specifically on Bedley’s Mystery Skype lesson, and you can check it out here. To read a story on Plaza Vista’s Super Bowl cameo in the Orange County Register, click here. (Subscription required)