Using Stop Motion Video in the Science Classroom
Stop motion science videos can be a fun and high-engaging way for students to show what they have learned. If you aren’t super techie, you might feel nervous to try. But I’m here to tell you- it’s not hard! And also, remember that students catch on to technology MUCH faster than we do. I’ve had students create stop-motion videos for a variety of topics and want to share some tips with you.
WHAT APPS TO USE
There are a few apps that you can use to create stop motion videos. If students are using iPads or their iPhones, the device likely already has iMovie on it. It isn’t my first choice, but it will work if students don’t want to download a new app. The app defaults each picture to 4 seconds, and students will need to shorten the time of each frame.
My favorite app is called Stop Motion Studio. It works extremely well, is easy to use, and is free (no need to use the paid version). There is only one catch with the free version- students must download the app first, and take their pictures within the app. It will not allow you to import videos from your camera roll in the free version.
TikTok is all the rage right now. I don’t personally have a TikTok account, but all my students do. Some students found a stop motion filter within the app that they chose to use.
There are a bunch of others when you search “stop motion” within the app store. Download a few and try them out! (But really, just stick with Stop Motion Studio 😉
STOP MOTION MATERIALS
Don’t spend a bunch of money buying fancy lego kits or materials! You likely have things laying around your classroom students can use. I usually put out a variety of objects and let students choose what they want to use. Options could include:
- Play doh or modeling clay
- Student whiteboards and markers
- Chalk markers on black lab tables (not my favorite option because it involves cleaning between every drawing)
- Legos (check the dollar store for off-brand!)
- Pipe cleaners
- Science kits (Don’t overlook things you already have for typical labs. Have a DNA replication kit for a lab? Turn it into a stop motion video!)
I tend to just let students go and get creative without many limitations, but you need to set a few requirements. First, I make students take a MINIMUM of 20 pictures. Depending on the topic, you might need to assign way more. For example, 20 pictures might be adequate for mitosis but not DNA replication. Next, I let students choose if they want to work alone or with a partner. Here’s the catch… if they want a partner, they are required to take more photos. If you teach on a block schedule, students can easily get their video done in one block. If you have 45 or 50 minute classes, they may need 2 days. Once they are finished, I have them upload it to our LMS (for us, Microsoft teams) and I grade it from there.
STOP MOTION TOPIC IDEAS FOR SCIENCE
Here is a list of topics that lend themselves well to stop motion videos:
- BIOLOGY: Cell division, DNA replication, ecological succession, protein folding
- ASTRONOMY: Big bang and fate of the universe, moon phases and eclipses, Kepler’s laws and orbits
- EARTH SCIENCE: Plate tectonics and mountain building, weather fronts, erosion
- PHYSICS: Distance vs displacement, inertia, doppler effect
- CHEMISTRY: Bonding, kinetic theory, mixtures vs solutions
Want to see some samples from my students? Check them out in this video: