Saturday, April 21, 2018

How Students Make Science Come Alive

Animating Science Workshops

I recently taught Animating Science for kids 8 to 14 at the Academy Center of the Arts in Lynchburg, VA. I am offering these kinds of workshops at the McLean Project for the Arts, the Bower Center and other venues. As I am doing more research about best practices in science education, I am finding evidence supporting my use of both phenomena based learning and animation. 

What is Phenomena-Based Learning?

Educators are using observable events in nature to explain or predict core concepts in science. Their curiosity sparked, students work to understand the phenomena in their own words/way.  This is done by presenting the events for the students to experience and then discussing, questioning and pondering.

This makes sense to me. When something peaks my curiosity, I start asking questions.  
I want to understand what I am seeing. This is what scientists do. In Anim8Nature workshops, students have the opportunity to then animate a science phenomena. How is this a powerful educational tool?

Benefits of Animation in Science Education

A recent study published in the Journal of Science Education and Technology by Miri Barak and Yehudi Dori found that animation provided opportunities for diverse teaching approaches and promoted a variety of thinking skills among students. Their research also indicated that animation could enhance scientific curiosity and foster scientific thinking. They  indicate that these positive results can be explained by students using both visual and auditory skills while exploring the animated movies.

I believe all of these benefits are amplified by then having the students create their own animations.

Student Sample from Workshop

Anim8Nature's Phenomena Based Animations

Anim8Nature has recently produced thirteen animations that document such things as monarch butterflies life cycle, a Piliated woodpeckerfeeding, a squirrel running and the life cycle of a jelly fish. These animations have no voice over. This is on purpose. Our objective is to spark curiosity and get students asking questions. A teacher can then guide the conversation to help the students find answers. This allows for discussion of both "right" and "wrong" answers.  

We are very interested in creating time and space for student exploration and experimentation.

More Student Samples

Even the youngest students jumped in and animated plant cycles, weather patterns and volcanos.

What's Coming for our Workshops?

In collaboration with the Claytor Nature Study Center at Lynchburg College, we are developing a series of workshops that begin with time outside observing and collecting with an artist and scientist before the media viewing and creating component of the workshops. This is a very exciting development and a perfect fit for the almost 500-acre Claytor facility.

How Are You Using Animation with your Students?

Post in comments about your experiences.

Links to other tech/art/science workshops

Animating Nature & Science

Learn more about on this blog and our website.We create media and workshops to help students and families explore science with art. We want to spark curiosity and get kids outside as environmental stewards. Support our work.

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