Example of one of the student animations on ionic bonding, with a Star Wars theme, entitled "Star Bonds"
Alright, it is about time I kicked this fledgling education blog effort into gear. I've been wanting to post for a while about this project I've been working on with a colleague. I'm just blown away by what the students did with it!
The Director of Academic Technology at my institution, Brett Sparrgrove (@edulicious), and I decided to collaborate on a project using animation and storytelling to better help the students understand abstract chemistry concepts. We chose to teach the students to animate in PowerPoint. Yes, I know we could have done it in Scratch, and I actually suggested that possibility, but we were looking for a program the kids were a bit more familiar with, so we could minimize required instruction in the digital medium and hopefully convince other teachers in the school to undertake similar projects.
To avoid making this post too lengthy, I'm going to talk about how we structured the process and what I've seen as the pros and cons so far. I'll post again with the results of the student evaluations. Peppered throughout will be examples of actual student work from the project, which I think speaks more about the project than my words ever could.
As you can see from the videos posted here, they were very imaginative within the framework of providing an animated analogy of how the bonding would work. We scaffolded the process for them, starting with an Animation Boot Camp where they got to play with pre-drawn slides that they had to animate into action. We also did a short Drawing Boot Camp that showed them how they could make complex characters and objects from simple shapes and some of the skills such as grouping etc... that are important to successful designing within an animation platform.
Student animation on ionic bonding, based off of the Hungry Hungry Hippos game. I love the bad chemistry puns in this one!
- The students were very engaged in the process and had a lot of fun, including most of my students who can be disengaged at times
- Some of my creative students really got a chance to shine
- I feel like many of them were able to demonstrate a deep understanding of the bonding by creating some really meaningful and clever analogies or connections of the chemistry to their stories
- We got an incredible diversity of ideas, stories, and ways to represent the bonding processes, not one animation was really alike, even in the groups that coordinated their theme
- The process allowed for natural differentiation
- The students have learned skills that will help them give better presentations and that they can leverage later in this class or in other classes
- Students started to explore visual literacy concepts that are important, particularly in today's multimedia society
- I learned things about PowerPoint that I didn't know, oftentimes from my students
- Lots of collaboration and sharing, both within and between groups
- We definitely invested quite a bit of time (in class and out) in the project; was it worth it?
- Did the students actually master the material any better or will they retain it for longer than they normally would? (this remains to be seen)
- Some students felt like it was more like tech class, than science class (interesting they make that distinction)
I'll keep you updated as the student evaluation results roll in!
One more on ionic bonding, with a classic video game feel.