Stop motion animation with SAM animation

I’m a huge fan of Wallace and GromitWallace and Gromit.  For those of you who have never crossed paths with the British duo, Wallace and Gromit are clay figures who are brought to life through a painstaking process called stop motion animation.  In stop motion animation, lifeless objects are photographed as they are manipulated through a series of subtle changes.  The photographs are assembled into a film which makes it look like as if objects are actually moving.  The final products are impressive and represent thousands of hours of work.

SAM animation brings the stop motion animation process to the classroom.  Designed specifically for students and educators, SAM animation allows users to take photos through a webcam to seamlessly create short stop motion videos.  The product is extremely easy to use.  Students can place a laptop in front of a dry erase board, turn on their webcam and start recording their first stop motion videos.  The best feature of SAM animation is that the previous image appears like a ghost over the active screen, allowing users to make a subtle change based on an object’s previous placement.  A demonstration copy of SAM animation is free and allows users to access most of the basic features of the product.

Stop motion animation can be a powerful addition to our classrooms.  Instead of assessing students through traditional paper and pencil means, products like SAM animation allow students to take the role of a movie director and author content to share with the world.  When developing a stop motion animation video (or any digital story), students must access a multitude of cognitive skills and abilities to create their finished product.  While the movies can still be used to assess student learning, stop motion animation projects incorporate 21st Century Skills and encourage students to apply their learning in the creation of new media.

Check out this example created by one of my students, Marshall Edens.  Marshall is currently an intern teacher at Conestoga Valley High School and created this stop motion video on Mitosis.  The most entertaining part of the video is that he uses candy like Pixie Stix and Tootsie Rolls to demonstrate a complicated science concept.  Great job, Marshall.

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