I first thought of project while testing out different technology tool ideas for student assignments. I use the process of mitosis for my example, because I remember having to memorize the steps, and this complicated process is hard to represent accurately with still images.
Of course, the NGSS scarcely mention mitosis. When it finally comes up in HS LS1-4, it requires less “creating a model” and more “using a specific model to answer some very specific and strange questions”.
As you do.
Nevertheless, I thought it was a cool idea, for modeling processes that are difficult to grasp on paper. I’ve listed some possible standards, but I welcome comments with suggestions! What AP or IB requirements could use this tech tool?
HS-LS2-5. Develop a model to illustrate the role of photosynthesis and cellular respiration in the cycling of carbon among the biosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere, and geosphere. [Clarification Statement: Examples of models could include simulations and mathematical models.] [Assessment Boundary: Assessment does not include the specific chemical steps of photosynthesis and respiration.]
MS-LS1-7. Develop a model to describe how food is rearranged through chemical reactions forming new
molecules that support growth and/or release energy as this matter moves through an
organism. [Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on describing that molecules are broken apart and put
back together and that in this process, energy is released.] [Assessment Boundary: Assessment does not
include details of the chemical reactions for photosynthesis or respiration.]
MS-ESS1-1. Develop and use a model of the Earth-sun-moon system to describe the cyclic patterns of lunar phases, eclipses of the sun and moon, and seasons. [Clarification Statement: Examples of models can be physical, graphical, or conceptual.]
MS-LS2-3. Develop a model to describe the cycling of matter and flow of energy among living and nonliving parts of an ecosystem. [Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on describing the conservation of matter and flow of energy into and out of various ecosystems, and on defining the boundaries of the system.] [Assessment Boundary: Assessment does not include the use of chemical reactions to describe the processes.]
For most students, this will be a new and different tool for demonstrating knowledge. Creativity and technology are both 21st century skills.
My preference is also for students to share their final products in some way. This could be sharing on a discussion board within the class, creating a webpage for student projects to share with parents and friends, or showing them to the whole class. This makes the assessment more authentic and fosters community.
Sharing with peers also benefits student review and learning, because one student’s model can help another understand or remember a concept.
I recommend creating a rubric specific to your class, grading style, and standard(s) being assessed. You may even want to give the NGSS success criteria checklists to your students.
Tech & Equipment Access:
In the classroom, you’ll need tablets or ipads with the relevant apps, OR allow your students to use their personal electronics. Our school-issued iPads come with StopMotion Studio pre-installed.
You’ll also need a wide array of “found objects”, art supplies, junk, and the class time to have them clean it all up when they’re done.
Here are some examples:
First, you’ll want to think about what pieces your model has. A cell model would have a cell membrane and some organelles inside. DNA replication would need a strand of DNA, strand of mRNA, and all the helper proteins. A food chain model would need different kinds of plants and animals.
Looking at pictures of the process in your textbook or online helps with this.
Do they need to bend? What are they shaped like? Do those things change their shape during this process?
Then, think about what you have around the house, craft supplies, food items, hair accessories, hardware or home improvement tools. Fruit Loops make great molecules, because you can assign the colors meaning. The toy box of your little brother (with permission 😉
How will add labels? Will you want to write on your work surface, or pre-write cards that “appear”? Some good work surfaces include sidewalks, whiteboards, kitchen counters, large pieces of butcher paper.
Set up your camera frame.
Unless you have a way to mount your phone or camera, you’ll probably need to go back and forth between moving the pieces and taking pictures. A lot.
So figure out how you’re going to align your camera with your work space, such as marking the corners. This will make sure your pictures doesn’t jump all over the place.
If you can mount the camera, set it up temporarily so you can mark the corners and frame your shot. Working with a friend helps, because they can take the pictures while you move the pieces.
Practice your process.
Taking pictures for stop-motion can take a while, and you don’t want to waste your time. So practice the order you’ll move things. You might want to make yourself cue cards or write a list of steps so that you do things in the correct order.
Prep your App.
There are several free choices of apps. I found StopMotion Studio was pretty easy to pick up and user friendly. If you’re used to using another one, it’s fair to do so.
(Outside Link:) 10 Best stop motion apps for Android & iOS
Ready your camera.
It helps if you have another person to capture pictures as you adjust your model, even if you have a camera stand.
Make your starting model.
Look through the camera to make sure it’s visible, centered, and zoomed how you like it.
Start the stop-motion photography.
Take your first picture, then incrementally move the pieces towards the next stage of the model, taking pictures at each step. Remember that the more steps and increments you make, the smoother your video will appear. Be Patient! It can be tempting to jump through the model quickly, but that will make your video harder to understand.
Preview your Video. If you’re not happy with it, record again.
Save the file.
Make sure your name and the name of the model (i.e. meiosis) are in the file name.
Back your file up. Most of these video makers do not save your work, so save your completed file in your google drive and/or a flash drive.
Submit in your class.