Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Stop-Motion Mitosis

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Stop-Motion Mitosis

Article excerpt

Over the last few months, we have presented a variety of ways to use video in the science classroom. In this month's column, we share our interview with Kathy Cady, a biology teacher in Winneconne, Wisconsin, who uses stop-still video animation to engage her students. Stop-still, or stop-motion, animations feature a series of images with slight changes between each take; when these images are played sequentially, they give the appearance of motion.

Science 2.0: Why did you decide to do a stop-motion video project with your biology students?

Kathy: I always had trouble teaching mitosis. I could lecture, show tutorials, and provide diagrams, but students just couldn't understand how the process worked. So, I decided to pitch my old approach and have students use digital cameras to create their own stop-still animations of mitosis.

Science 2.0: Can you describe the project?

Kathy: I start by giving students a brief introduction to mitosis and the processes that occur during each phase. In small groups, they then have to illustrate the process using stop-still animation. Students are excited as they plan how to model mitosis and what materials they will use for individual cell parts.

After a day of planning and storyboarding, students take still pictures of their animal cell models during each stage of mitosis. They are required to label both the parts of the cell and the various phases. The still pictures are then transferred to a computer and made into a movie using video editing software, such as Windows Movie Maker or iMovie. The final movies range in length from 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Science 2.0: How are students assessed during this project?

Kathy: After students create their movies, we hold a screening. Students are able to show off their work and discuss their reasons for choosing specific materials and depictions. The rest of the class critiques their movies in terms of accuracy and style. I also post the best student examples to our class wiki, allowing students to share their work with parents and friends.

Modeling the process and critiquing one another's models helps students learn mitosis. Student feedback, in particular, adds to learning and is aided by technology. Students are able to share their work with the entire class, rather than just me.


Science 2.0: How do your students react to this project? …

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