Animation for grades 6-12
Content/concept goals for this activityStudents will learn about a feedback process that affects climate change. Students will use systems thinking tools such as causal loop diagrams to illustrate how their system can change when key variable(s) of the system change.
High order thinking skills for this activity
Students will use the following thinking skills to develop an animation:
- Researching, evaluation, interpretation of feedbacks in climate systems
- Systems thinking and analysis
- Collaboration in groups to research, plan and produce an animation
Other skills goals for this activityWhen creating an animation, students will learn and apply the following media skills:
- Background internet research from vetted sources
- Story boarding
- Animation production techniques
- Filming the animation
- Using animation software to animate and edit their film
- Collaborating on pre-planning, production and animation screening
- Critiques (peer review) of others work
- Present their narrated animations for a class critique.
Context for Use
The Feedbacks in Climate Change Animation lesson is suitable for students in middle school and high school. Examples of content areas in courses, units or lessons that are natural fits for this animation lesson include:
- Climate change
- Ecology, ecosystems and environmental science
- Weather and Climate
- Earth Science
- Media Studies/Journalism
- Systems Thinking
- Societal Issues
Skills and concepts that students must have mastered
This Animation activity may be more meaningful for students if they have previously had some background in climate science and media production skills. Feedbacks and systems thinking may be completely new concepts for students - regardless of their age. Teachers will need to spend time having students learn about feedbacks and systems before launching this activity.
How the activity is situated in the unit or course
This animation project is well suited for a culminating project to a unit of study. Alternatively, a unit on climate change and/or systems thinking may be structured around creating this animation. In this approach, the student's ability to research and evaluate climate feedbacks and apply systems thinking strategies to interpret climate feedback science becomes the primary focus for assessment.
Description and Teaching Materials
The climate change feedback animation lesson follows a sequence of activities. Some of the activities can be done for homework. Pre-teaching climate change science content, systems thinking and climate feedbacks will differ from class to class based on age and needs.
- Choose a climate feedback scenario to read, interpret and identify a causal feedback loop which they will then animate.
- Create a storyboard with narration for their causal feedback loop animation.
- Use a still camera and tripod to shoot approximately 150 shots (10 frames per second) for a ~15 second animation accompanied by student-produced narration.
- Use animation software to animate and edit their film.
- Screen their finished animated film with peers in a critique.
CAM Animation Project Handout for Grades 6-12 (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 683kB Dec4 13)
Scenario: Causal Feedback Loop in a Warming Arctic (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 880kB Jan27 14)
Scenario: Causal Feedback Loop in Pine Bark Beetle Infestations of U.S. Western Forests (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 899kB Jan28 14)
Scenario: Causal Feedback Loop(s) in the 2011 Texas Drought (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 946kB Jan28 14)
Scenario: Causal Feedback Loop in a Thawing Permafrost (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 745kB Jan28 14)
CAM Storyboard Template (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 558kB Dec3 13)
CAM Peer Review Form for Video Projects (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 111kB Dec3 13)
Teaching Notes and Tips
Teaching Tips and Notes:
- This media project assumes that students will have prior knowledge on systems thinking strategies and causal feedback loops before they begin to create their animation. Thus, pre-plan for teaching about systems-thinking and feedbacks before you begin.
- Creating an animation is very student-centered which puts you in the role of facilitator.
- Review the CAM Animation Stop Motion Demo Tutorial Video on Creating Causal Loops. You will show this video to the class at the beginning of the production phase.
- Review the project's student handouts and rubrics with students before they begin pre-production.
- Make sure you spend enough time understanding the equipment and software you will be working with before beginning the animation project.
- It is important to check in with students often to ensure that the science they are presenting is scientifically accurate and rigorous enough for their age group. There are multiple times during pre-production where you can check-in with students to assess whether they are on-track in meeting their learning goals. For example, reviewing students' storyboards will allow you to ask clarifying questions and uncover any science misconceptions before the animation is done.
- Students should critique each others work respectfully and with a collective goal of having all projects in the class be strong. Critiques can be powerful learning tools for students. When critiquing other students' work, students should explicitly acknowledge excellent work by their classmates. Make sure you review ground rules for critiquing other students' work before you begin. Your fellow art teachers would be a good resource for help with critiquing.
- Ask students to consider how they will take their work beyond the classroom.
There are several points in the development and completion of this animation project that offer opportunities for assessment. For example:
- The animation storyboard and the narrative can be assessed for clarity, creativity, scientific accuracy and planning
- Final animations offer numerous opportunities to assess the following:
- editing skills
- scientific accuracy
- quality of visual and audio aspects of the video as well as editing of the final cut
- creation and use of audio and visual assets to communicate a key science concept
- public speaking skills (as students explain what they are trying to convey, especially during face-to-face screenings).