Science animation: How to make scientific subjects fun?

May 21, 2020animation benefits, animation tips, Blog, educational animations, teaching aids0 comments

Do you believe that science can make you joyful and “high” like helium? That’s because of animated visuals! Animation and science both boost imagination to the edge. In fact, this duo can bring us many surprising benefits, especially in teaching science. Using animated videos into scientific subjects helps teachers to solve one of the most aching problems: students perceive science as a boring subject. An animated scientific explainer video is a smart solution that going to tickle learners even their will told them not to!

 

What is science animation?

Animated resources such as videos, images, slides, … used for delivering scientific information are called science animation. For example, this is a video from Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell YouTube channel using animation to visualize the smallness of an atom. The result? They nailed it!

Or this educational image from our work with world-renowned permaculture consultant, designer, and teacher Geoff Lawton on Permaculture Design Online Course. Earlier on, he has produced more than 700 live-action videos recording himself teaching the lesson. However, the complicated and abstract processes of permaculture can’t be fully delivered and explained only via these videos. Therefore, we consulted Geoff on combining live-action and animated videos in the courses and worked together to create 330 learning videos. Science animations play an important role in helping students understand the complex effects of landscapes and climates, which takes hours if only explained by words.

Check out more case studies of science animations: Animations for Science Courses

The core value of science animation is high accuracy. When it comes to teaching science – whether it’s applied science or natural science, there should be no misunderstanding or misleading. Therefore, students’ foundation of knowledge would be strong, firm and bold so that they will be able to develop their learning journey. Moreover, with the help of animated materials, science can now be both fun and informative at the same time. How? Let’s find out below!

How can animation make the science fun?

When students hear about science, they often perceive the subject to be hard, complex, boring. Moreover, scientific subjects are tagged as only-for-nerd, in which some students pride themselves in being more creative than others because they’re not attracted to these methodical topics. The convenience the Internet has brought to us, specifically search engines like Google, distracted young people from curiosity to dig deep into their study, instead they choose to harvest some instant, shortcut information. Those are just on the tip of an iceberg of many reasons why more and more students are losing interest in learning sciences.

Find out more factors contribute to the low enthusiasm for science: 13 reasons why people find science boring

So how can animation works magics on science though the two oppose each other?


Welcoming atmosphere

By making it not only look fun but also feel fun, sound fun, science is more appealing to a wider range of people nowadays. Previously, they may think scientific subjects may not be right for them. But thanks to the colorful, friendly appearance of animation, students can feel more supported and confident to take the class. Attending science hours is no longer a burden, instead, it’s the playful excitement just like coming to the cinema or going to a comic bookstore.

How to make scientific subjects fun?

Simplify complicated contents

Yes, one of the most common reasons why people find science tiring is that it involves too many difficult and puzzling factors. Definitions, internal/external relationships, chronological orders, and many more to count. How can we be fun while having to digest many things at a time. So animation is to the rescue! These complex issues could be solved with animated resources by visualization. With visuals, science learning is made easier since our brain tends to proceed images a lot faster than written words, estimated 60,000 times faster… No more wordy, no more complex matter, for the learners; well beings. Furthermore, complex data like charts, numbers are presented more beautifully. 

 “How the tornado forms” is a difficult topic that is challenging to explain to students the complicated effects of landscapes and climates. But, as you see, this animated video has done it well! All you have to do is sitting in front of your screen just within 1 minute and 26 seconds, and the knowledge naturally jumps into your mind. For sure, if you go for a presentation with a ton of words, it can take hours and the learning outcomes are not efficient.

Joyful learning experience

Most of us grow up with the fantasies of Cartoon Network, Disney Channel, or Ghibli Studios as childhood memories. But with the application of animated videos into school subjects, especially boring science, students are now living their wonderful young ages again! They get fun, they get inspired and they learn from science animation. Who said animation is only for children? Animated materials boost learning spirit, make them more engaged, and improve the learning outcome. 

Take a look at this famous video from TED-Ed:

This 4-minutes video used colorful animation to visualize strange obstacles floating in our eyes. “Floaters” are illustrated cutely are explained scientifically with high accuracy of the operation of our eyes. Thanks to TED-Ed, the “biggest personal mystery” is now clear! These annoying floaters are tiny objects that cast shadows on the retina of your eyeball and are clearly seen on bright backgrounds like a blank computer screen or morning blue sky.

Extra ways to fight science subjects boredom: Scientific Subjects Made Simple: 07 Pivotal Teaching Aids for Science

From the video above, another conclusion is made to make science learning more fun: practical experience. Students often forget the scientific side of a real phenomenon, so surprise them with in-depth knowledge would be a brilliant way to inspirit them. And here’s the most important part of this article, we would like to tell you lot of tricks and reveal some secret to produce really humorous science animation. 

 

How to create fun science animation?

Focus on the following factors to ultimately produce effective science materials with animation, here you go! 

Create motion to enjoy first

How to make scientific subjects fun?

Simple yet impressive! Who would deny a cute GIF like this? The key here is the motion of the illustrated Earth: the smile, the surprise reaction, …

Motion enlists as the strongest feature in science animation. Movement of characters, transition of processes or operation of living things are all possible to be shown by motion. Its vital mission is to connect: everything is relatable. The smoothness of a video defines the success of delivering knowledge as it affects learning process, motivation as well as engagement. Do you need a lot of those very ‘technique’ motions or transition? Actually no, too many movements unfortunately seemly bite at the back because it will distract learners. But yes, it’s an indispensable part, knowing to insert appropriate motion at appropriate time is a secret that contribute robustly to give emotion for the video and make it ‘alive’.  

If you are finding for some animation software to perform the act, we suggest you After Effect Adobe, Toon Boom, etc. Template softwares like Vyond, PowToon are just good to make a basic and simple animation, so it would be hard to create the proper animation.  For the best results, you should use tailored animation from professional studios instead. Although it’s more expensive than others, it reduces a lot of work and guarantees the quality.

Optimize visualized subjects

Another great feature from science animation is visualization. Poor visual never conquer the learners. However, if it is done for distinguished purposes (like parody), we will not discuss that circumstances, such as this video 60M viewer video (which is super 8bit, at primitive dawn of illustrations), but standing out! 

But for higher education and non-entertainment videos, (which is explainer videos), a rich and intense visual materials helps learners to get the idea of content better with clear data from charts, models and images. Take a look at this detailed visuals explaining various processes that occur in the formation of metamorphic rock from our work with UNSW Sydney (The University of New South Wales).

Normally, it would take pages of document to explain specifically a complicated process like this. However, science animation allows students to grasp all the information with logic and order.

There are some notes when using charts and models for higher outcomes.

For charts:

  • Tree charts are beneficial to show various kinds of relationships.
  • Classification charts are best used to present classifications e.g. plant kingdom or animal kingdom.
  • Collages are those charts where information or pictures from other sources (newspaper, magazine, etc) are pasted.
  • Flip charts are bound to make a flipbook or put on a stand and flipped backward like a calendar sheet.

For models, remember to apply a reasonable type for each situation. There are 3 main types of models, which are static, sectional, and working model. In a static model, parts of a system cannot be separated. On the other hand, sectional models allow you to remove and replace parts of an object. Apart from that, working models show the actual operation of an object or process, e.g, conduction of electricity, body systems. (INFOGRAPHIC)

 

Trigger humor and curiosity via storytelling

An extra for science animation’s attractiveness is definitely storytelling. Do you believe that storytelling is the trend of presenting complex and abstract topics like science nowadays? Everybody always is attracted to inspiring stories. Because they bring a great sense of listening and feeling and at the same time. In our recent article The Subtle Art of communicating complex concept with animation, we have noted down for you that:

Use a plot if possible

While we’re on the topic of introducing characters for emotional values, why not write a whole story or film plot? Humans have always been storytellers, ever since we were living in caves. And since you’re informing your audience of new and complicated ideas, a good solution is to sandwich it with something they’re already familiar with – stories.

Animation and storytelling go hand in hand, fusing together to make the best catalyst for emotions, reeling everyone in with funny, sad, triggering images, you name it. Even the toughest Kinesthetics will have their pickles tickled.

In medical animation, storytelling is also applied in medical animation to present training for both patients and professionals. While storytelling provides smoothly-connected explanations for their health, nurses and doctors find it useful in learning, training, and performing. One highlight of this healthcare animation is experiential learning. Some special scenarios can’t be presented, for example, a hospital catches on fire. A carefully-written script can bring this emergency situation to life, along with the help of animation. 

To make storytelling, firstly, you have to create objects and characters. Besides, you also need to create an outline of the flow of information, what happens before, what happens after. It’s a script. In this way, the content is more simple to understand, and science becomes more friendly with learners. But to how make it fun, the secret lies in the sense of humor, it is wise to utilize analogies whenever possible, begin with a super nonsense scenarios that go against the reality to imagine the reverse, link time events/ factors even from different or irrelevant entities, but may share a connection together. Always thinking of more way to connect similar subjects, and expand the topic logically.

Never stop before you can create inspiring audio narrations

Last but not least, animated video with compelling visuals and audio descriptions can lead to the highest result thanks to the creation of a multi-sensory learning experience for viewers.

An animated learning video without the voice-over usually has more texts. In science animation, when students are focusing on watching the movements of objects to see the process, it’s hard to read the texts included. Through voice-over, the presence of lecturers, which is very important to students’ learning experience, is enhanced. The familiar instructor’s voice can decrease the feeling of isolation and demotivation when learners studying online. 

It’s not much to say, to tone of the narration (as a part of story telling) can affect the mood of the learners. If you go with a sleepy voice, your students will get super sleepy accordingly. A dogmatic voice will bring heaviness and dull to the video, and lose all attempt of being fun. So, it’s vital that every science animation should come up with a clear and transparent dubbing and most of it, be funny (give it a try) and be inspiring. Be exotic and exciting!

Dig deeper on this topic in this article:

6 Tips to Enhance Instructor Presence in Online Learning

Watch our video for Sedimentary Design Training for UNSW Sydney recorded with voice-over for wonderful explanations, which resulted in fewer texts on screen and increasing focus of students.

Conclusion

To sum up, animation does wonders for science teaching as its features make difficult and tough scientific topics more fun, more engaging. Students will realize that learning science is a fun and enjoyable journey leading to valuable knowledge. 

Animation, as a tool that boosts imagination and creativity, has tremendous effects on delivering information and inspiring students. And it is also an amazing way to promote your course. Find out more about these articles below:

Read Further:

 

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