Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Animation Creation Helps Students Review Abstract Concepts in Science

Genetics is a unit of biology with many levels.  

There is the exploration of our traits when students compare some simple dominant and recessive traits and consider which genes they received from parents and ancestors. This leads to the logical problem solving of Punnet Squares.  

There is the history and biochemistry of DNA and all the new applications of technology, from DNA fingerprinting, cloning, and the creation of Genetically modified organisms. 

Ethical questions also arise from this new knowledge and ability. 

During this unit students do everything from lab work to debating the issues. When it is time to review for the unit test I find the biggest challenge for students is being able to explain what is happening during the biochemical processes that we cannot see with our eyes.

To address this limitation I incorporate an animation assignment into the review process.

Here is an overview of the assignment:

Students work in table groups already. For this assignment each table group is given a different topic: Protein synthesis, DNA structure and replication, creation of Recombinant DNA, or DNA fingerprinting

Students must have a clear understanding of their topic in order to plan, script and create their movie.

Students use dry erase boards, Bendaroos, clay, beads, and colored paper as props for a movie created in one 85 minute class period.


Using an animation App such as iMotion HD (Free) or iStopMotion ($9.99) each table had a stand to hold the iPad in place while they worked. Each group completed their animation shots and selected an appropriate play speed then saved the movie to their camera roll.  

Most groups made their entire animation in one series. Some realized they could build from a series of animations and even action shots that they would splice together later.  

From here the students could further edit their animation in iMovie, add subtitles, and include a voice over.  

The assignment is rushed but the point of the lesson was to review concepts and not create the "best animation." I could give more instruction in the App and time to storyboard if I was looking for a more polished finished product. I believe the film making process lead to the review of the material they needed.

My students easily figured out the apps and helped each other between groups if one person had more knowledge. As a teacher I am able to circulate and answer questions -- more about the biology than the technology. At the end of class, I show the short clips to the whole class and share all the movies with the Biology classes on our Moodle page for them to use for Review.

Below is an example of student created work for this assignment.

video


Hilary Staples
High School Science Chair
San Domenico School





1 comment: