Earth Day is coming up on April 22, but all year round we love to celebrate planet Earth. In this STEM project we challenge students to apply some creativity and technology skills, to create informative stop motion animation videos about Earth Day and planet Earth. This is a fun and innovative way to have students demonstrate their knowledge of the Earth, but also show off their STEM and technology skills in a creative way.
Earth Day Stop Motion Animation Project
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Earth Day STEM Activity
Every April 22nd since 1970 we come together to celebrate this amazing planet where we get to live. Earth day is a chance for us to raise awareness about how we can help keep the earth healthy. From recycling to replanting, there are a lot of different ways that we can make sure that our planet lasts long after we have gone.
One sure way to ensure the planet’s safety is to teach our children about the earth and encourage them to make the effort to keep working each day to do their part. Sometimes the best way to make a lasting impression is to incorporate learning with a fun earth day activity.
STEM projects are always a hit, so for Earth Day we decided to use Stop Motion Animation to educate and challenge the kids. Stop motion animation is incredibly engaging and fosters creativity because animation encourages you to tell a story. In this activity we challenge kids to make a video to illustrate their understanding about Earth Day.
Stop Motion STEM Project
Stop motion animation is really cool! It uses a series of still pictures with slight changes between each photo frame. When these pictures are strung together and played quickly they give the illusion of movement.
There are several types of stop motion that you may have seen and that are simple for kids:
- Claymation which is making the animations with clay models and scenery.
- Object motion which like it sounds makes animations from moving objects ranging from toy trucks to lego figures. You can also use special figures designed for stop motion.
- Cut out animation where you use flat cutouts to make an animation.
- Digital stop motion, where you use digital images to create animation videos.
Earth Day Stop Motion Ideas for Kids
In this Stop Motion STEM project we are focusing on the theme of Earth Day. Some ideas for Stop Motion projects could be:
- Challenge students to create an Earth Day PSA (public service announcement) encouraging people to make smart choices when caring for the Earth,
- Make a layers of the earth science explanation
- Demonstrate how a seed grows into a plant.
- Make an animated model of the water cycle.
- Create an informative animation about the Greenhouse Effect.
- Whatever inspires your student and makes them passionate about caring for the Earth! The possibilities are endless.
Stop Motion Technology
There are super simple stop motion tools that can be found on the web or app stores:
- ABCya.com Animate – A web based program to create animations.
- Stop Motion Studio App on Apple and Google Play.
- Google Slides
For this activity we used Google Slides on desktop. It’s a very simple and straightforward program that is web-based, saves your work as you go, and lets you flip through frames easily to see your progress.
So how can you make a stop motion video?
Start simple – to understand the way that stop motion works start by making it with just a shape that you can move and manipulate. You can do this digitally by making small changes. If you are using figures, toys, paper or clay/playdough, ensure you are making small adjustments before taking each picture. You will end up with a LOT of pictures. But the more pictures you have, with small changes in each picture, the smoother your final project will be.
As you prepare to create each image, make sure you duplicate or copy each slide or frame and then make tiny movements or changes to capture the next image. The changes you make to your pictures need to be small in each slide to make the animation fluid.
How to Make Stop Motion with Google Slides
Note: To access Google Slides you will need a google account. You can sign up free at slides.google.com and click create account.
Watch this video to see a screen capture showing all the steps. If you can’t see the video, ensure your adblockers are disabled.
Once in Google Slides click BLANK
On slide one you wil see title and subtitle boxes, click CTRL+A to select all and DELETE to clear the slide so it’s blank.
In the tools menu click SHAPE TOOL and choose a shape to make your animation.
Click anywhere in your open space and drag down to make the shape the size that you want. You can use the fill tool if you want to change the color of your shape. To fill you must choose the shape by clicking on it, when it’s ready it will have blue tool bars like the ones below.
Next step, you need to duplicate slide. In the tool menu click SLIDE>Duplicate Slide, this action will make an exact copy for you. On the second slide you can either resize or move the object or both.
Repeat Step 4 for as many times as you would like to complete your animation. The more slides you have the longer your animation will be. You can test to see how your animation is coming along is by clicking the slide previews on the left and using the up and down arrows on your keyboard to flip quickly through the slides and get an idea of how it is coming.
When you’re done. Click the file menu on the left and scroll down to PUBLISH TO THE WEB. In the window that pops up change the AUTO ADVANCE SLIDES to every second, check the two boxes below to start automatically and restart slideshow after it’s done so it will play in a loop. Next, click into the box with the animation link and use CTRL+C to copy it.
Click into a new internet tab and paste that link. At the end of that link is the number 3000, click at the end of the link and backspace over the last zero. Then press ENTER and watch it go!
How to Make A Stop Motion Animation with App
If you would like to try one of the apps like Stop Motion there are a couple of steps you should take to ensure that your animation is nice and smooth.
One is to find something to hold your camera very still. Keeping the camera in one position will keep the animation steady and smooth. You can use a tripod or something similar but you don’t need anything fancy, you can set it on top of a stack of books if you’re shooting down toward a table, prop it up against something if you’re shooting straight ahead, or you can make part of the project engineering a stand that will be able to hold the device in place while you create your animation.
You will also want to think about your background, if you’re shooting clay figures or toys or legos you will want to set up or draw a background that will make your animation look more realistic.
Once you’re ready the animation process is similar.
Open the app (I am going to use Stop Motion) and choose NEW MOVIE. The app will give you examples and videos to give you hints and tricks along the way.
Click the plus sign on the left side to add photos and get started. Take your first photo.
Move your objects. Remember, the smaller the movements the better.
Repeat until you’re done with your movie – the more slides, the longer the movie. You can use the onion skin slider on the left hand side of the screen to see the transition from frame to frame or press play to see the animation so far!
That’s it – you can make your movie as simple or as complicated as you want. Once the kids have the hang of how it works their imaginations go wild! Go and have fun exploring all of the possibilities that stop motion offers!