Combining high-speed cameras and stop-motion animation software to support students' modeling of human body movement

Victor R. Lee, Utah State University


Biomechanics, and specifically the biomechanics associated with human movement, is a potentially rich backdrop against which educators can design innovative science teaching and learning activities. Moreover, the use of technologies associated with biomechanics research, such as high-speed cameras that can produce high-quality slow-motion video, can be deployed in such a way to support students’ participation in practices of scientific modeling. As participants in classroom design experiment, fifteen fifth-grade students worked with high-speed cameras and stop-motion animation software (SAM Animation) over several days to produce dynamic models of motion and body movement. The designed series of learning activities involved iterative cycles of animation creation and critique and use of various depictive materials. Subsequent analysis of flipbooks of human jumping movements created by the students at the beginning and end of the unit revealed a significant improvement in both the epistemic fidelity of students’ representations. Excerpts from classroom observations highlight the role that the teacher plays in supporting students’ thoughtful reflection of and attention to slow-motion video. In total, this design and research intervention demonstrates that the combination of technologies, activities, and teacher support can lead to improvements in some of the foundations associated with students’ modeling.