Because We Need the Robot Chickens of Tomorrow

Last week, plied with Jo-Jos and the promise of compelling professional development, I attended a guest demonstration from iCreate to Educate, the educational program that uses stop-motion animation as a classroom learning tool. With its downloadable software and utilization of simple webcams, it’s impressive, but its success isn’t surprising; getting kids engaged in a hands-on, creative activity to learn about math and science is an obvious win, and it really does look like a lot of fun. For instance, check this out:

However, what struck me most was the storyboard worksheet sample (PDF) that accompanied iCreate’s materials. Not only do these activities promote the lesson at hand, they are also getting kids to think about how to construct a story.

By the time I left high school, I had the five-paragraph keyhole structure as my steady guide for constructing a narrative, and it’s served me pretty well, even as I’ve expanded my story construction to include video, messing around with Final Cut now as I did with MS Works then. If elementary school kids are using stop motion animation to think about their narrative, and getting the instant reward of seeing their story board in motion, then the future of visual storytelling looks bright. Robot Chicken, when the time comes to pass the torch, these kids will be ready.

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