Demonstrating Scientific Knowledge through Animation: A Year Three Unit

I had not used stop motion animation with students for many years, since the days of claymation with a digital camera. Having been given the opportunity to plan my own digital curriculum this year and excited to try something different, I was interested to see how we could use iPads to create animations with cross curricular links.¬†Linking to their Science unit, the year three students were set the task of answering the inquiry question, ‘How can we teach others about living, once living and never living things through stop motion animation?’

A very small percentage of students had prior knowledge about stop motion animation, so our studies began with an introduction to the technology and its application in the real world. This was followed by a whole class project based on the popular YouTube videos, Invisible Go Karts. Before taking the photos for the animation, we storyboarded our ideas and discussed the key elements of a successful animation, such as small movements between frames to ensure a smooth flowing and realistic video. I captured the frames using the Lego Movie Maker app and modelled how to edit and complete the video. Seeing the finished product was enough to get students hooked on the concept of stop motion animation!

Excerpt from one of our Invisible Go Kart projects

In our following lesson students worked in pairs to experiment with the technology, creating a simple storyboard and animation of a plastic figurine. By this stage, many students had also played around with the app at home in their own time and were excited to share with me, their own creations.

Example animated figurine

The culminating project was for students to plan and create an animation to teach others about living, once living and never living things. Over several lessons students storyboarded, made characters, captured frames and edited their animations.

Working from a storyboard to capture frames

Working from a storyboard to capture frames

The finished product

Being the first time they had tried stop motion animation, the students were still developing the necessary skills to create a completely polished end product. What will help them achieve this in time is their new found enthusiasm for stop motion animation, and their ability to provide constructive feedback about the success of their own and others’ animations. While students’ work was not always perfect, our lessons often concluded with very insightful discussions as they evaluated their progress and planned steps forward in their technology learning journeys.

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