Have you ever been in a competition with a room of 400 kids where after you hear, "3-2-1….GO!" there's nothing but an immediate spark of low murmur and cutting paper? And then for the next 4 hours the noise level doesn't increase beyond maybe a bit louder chatter and giggle here and there?
I must say neither have I until I judged the first annual Scinemation Competition hosted by the Singapore Science Center with support from iCreate to Educate. Not only was it a joy to watch that many students totally engaged using SAM Animation, I was fascinated by the amount of focus and dedication these students exhibited. I've been to many FIRST robotics competitions in my time and this was definitely on par and perhaps beyond such events.
So what was the competition? Well, it lasted over the course of 4 days (last day was the awards ceremony) and teams of 4 students from various grade levels (almost 100 in total) were tasked with creating their representation/understanding of Climate Change with a 30-60 second stop-motion animation that could be built in 4 hours with limited craft materials. Teams were judged across a variety of categories from "Best Storyboard" to "Most Creative Animation" to "Most Entertaining Animation" … and as a judge it was an absolute blast to see the intensity, diligence, and teamwork by all students. Perhaps it was the winning prizes of iPads or Xboxes or Wiis that was the motivator… but I like to think it also had to do with the nature of creating one's very own video.
While most of the animations did little in the way of really showing the depths of climate change on a scientific level, the elements that were notable include:
1) Creative use of materials….with just 4 hours and a limited amount of craft supplies, we observed some fabulous out-of-the-box prop-making. Skills one would have to exhibit in an interview to be an Imagineer.
2) Teamwork…we very rarely recommend teams of 4 students when working with SAM Animation because inevitably someone gets bored. But there was not a single time I observed non-activity. It was clear that delegation and cooperation were underway within each team.
3) Storyboards…one of the elements we can never stress enough is that of putting time into storyboards. There were some fabulous stories created — very intricate, detailed, and well thought-out. While some were worthy of full-feature length films, most of them could be executed in the 4-hour creation time.
All in all it was an energizing experience. We are very much looking forward to next year, and opening it up outside of Singapore, stay tuned!