Have you ever wanted your students to try out an idea for an animation without taking pictures? Without the computer? A practice run of sorts?
I have had this idea before but I have never tried it with students until this week. I wanted to have them practice using the white board bits from our “Getting Started” kit in a chemistry animation about bonding and chemical reactions. The students used the small squares (white board bits) to represent the nucleus of atoms. The plastic dots were then used to represent valence electrons (i.e. electrons that are in the outer shell of the atom). Recall from your own chemistry background that an ionic bond is formed when one atom “steals” electrons from another. The resulting oppositely charged ions are then pulled together via an electromagnetic force. In a covalent bond, electrons are shared and the shared attraction for the electrons forms the covalent bond. Quantum chemists and physicists, please excuse the glossing over of many other details…
So, I wanted my students to practice making these bonds before they used the props in future animation assignments. It worked quite well. The students practiced making different arrangements and then when it was “showtime”, they had to perform the motion of moving electrons and nuclei to demonstrate the formation of various ionic and covalent bonds among different elements. Now, having seen their work with these props, I am confident that they have the “animation language” to use in future movies about how elements interact during bond formation and disassociation (i.e. chemical reactions).
Independent of the animation topic (chemical bonds in this case), what struck me about this assignment was the kinds of thinking, discussing, and moving that the students did without the cameras and computers. They truly were doing “SAM” without SAM. It was neat. So, the next time you would like to do a SAM project but do not have access to the cameras and computers, try it as a performance based assignment. Give the students the props and have them act out their movie idea for the whole class.
Happy animating with SAM or without SAM!