The Zu3D coding resources allows students to follow and develop algorithms to create animated films. This gives students the opportunity to enhance their computational thinking and coding skills in a fun, accessible and 'non-scary' way. Students follow instructions (the algorithm) that tell them where to move their characters. They capture a frame with each movement. At the end of the algorithm they will have created a complete film. Students can then compare their film to the master film and see if they have followed the algorithm correctly. The animated film should match exactly, if it doesn't students will need to work out where and why they have gone wrong (detecting and correcting errors). Students can then create their own film step by step, recording each instruction thus creating their own algorithm for other children to follow.
(animation theatre and webcam not included)
Animation is one of the most versatile educational activities. We’ve seen it used in schools to teach storytelling, poetry, maths, art, design & technology, science, geography, history, RE, French, to name just a few.…and now computational thinking, algorithms and coding.
We've created some simple grids which fit into our existing animation sets. These allow the movements of a film to be quantified into a series of discrete instructional steps- an algorithm.
To get started children are given an algorithm a list of instructions. They follow the algorithm step-by moving the characters as instructed and capturing a frame for each movement to create the film.
They can watch back their film and compare it with our original film, checking for mistakes and correcting as required (debugging).
Then they can create their own new film, recording each step to create a new algorithm. This can then be exchanged with another group for them to decode into a film.
The animations can be enhanced with sounds effects, music, speech bubbles, titles and credits to turn a simple film into a compelling story. With older children instructions for these enhancements could even be written into the algorithms.
This is fun easy way of getting children to both write and interpret algorithms, acting as both the programmer and processor giving children a deeper understanding of what it’s all about.
Next we want to look at creating ‘choose your own adventure’ algorithms for films, where at the bottom of each page of instructions the children are faced with a questions (and IF statement) e.g. Should the robot be friendly or mean?
Depending on their choice they would then get redirected to different stage of the algorithm. It would be easy to add LOOPS and GOTO statements to make repeating sections of a film e.g. two characters chasing each other around a tree.
Like everything with Zu3D it is very easy and accessible to get started, but there is always another level you can take students too.