Culminating Project 1: Stop-Animation Video (Day 2 of Project)

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SWBAT create a stop-animation video that shows what happens on the molecular level during a simple chemical reaction.

Big Idea

Bonds are broken and atoms are rearranged before forming new bonds during a chemical reaction; Matter is conserved.

Why This Lesson?

This lesson is a "how-to" for students to complete their first culminating project (of two) that will be used as a summative assessment for this unit.  It is part of a 5-day in class project, followed by a week of out of class time.  The in-class portion timeline is detailed below:

  • Day 1 is spent introducing the project [Intro for Culminating Project 1: Stop-Animation Video (Day 1 of Project)].
  • Day 2 is spent providing students with tools and examples of storyboarding, scripting, and set design (this lesson!).
  • Days 3 & 4 are group work time for students.  There is no separate lesson write-up for these days because students are working at a variety of paces and on different aspects of their pre-production.  During these two days, I am available to support student progress and answer any questions they have.  I keep an eye on groups and make sure that they are progressing toward a successful product, reminding students to use the rubric to guide their video making.
  • Day 5 is our last day of pre-production during which I meet individually with each group to evaluate their progress toward completion of the pre-production rubric [Culminating Project 1: Stop-Animation Video (Day 5 of Project)].

Having students create an end product (in this case, a video) that demonstrates their understanding of what happens at the molecular level during a chemical reaction addresses multiple Science and Engineering Practices.  First, students will be making and using models to show a chemical reaction occurring (SEP 2).  Students will need to verify the molecular structure of their reactants and products after identifying a chemical reaction to use in their videos which involves obtaining and evaluating information.  Then, they will be communicating information through the form of video (SEP 8).  During the video, students will construct explanations of conservation of matter and molecular rearrangement (SEP 6).

Multiple Performance Expectations are also addressed.  Students are creating a video that shows the outcome of a simple chemical reaction by modeling that reaction and providing detailed explanation as to what is occurring to the bonds and atoms in the reactants to make the products, directly addressing HS-PS1-2.  Two more Performance Expectations are indirectly addressed: HS-PS1-4 and HS-PS1-5.  Students must understand what occurs on the molecular level during a chemical reaction in order to address the changes in bond energies resulting in endothermic or exothermic reactions (HS-PS1-4).  In order for students to understand how changes in temperature or concentration effect reaction rates, they must have a basic understand of the molecular interactions during a chemical reaction (HS-PS1-5).

Finally, there are three Crosscutting Concepts that are addressed.  Students are using a chemical reaction equation to represent a chemical reaction, which addresses XC-SPQ-MS-4, a middle school crosscutting concept that is still particularly important for students at the high school level to master.  Students must clearly demonstrate understanding that matter is conserved during a chemical reaction which directly addresses XC-EM-HS-1.  They are also using models to simulate the chemical reaction and not actually performing the chemical reaction, which addresses XC-SSM-HS-3.

Storyboarding Instruction

25 minutes

I show students this movie clip from Disney's Cinderella, and the accompanying storyboard, to help them understand how storyboarding helps to guide the action in a movie, but does not have to include every single frame.

First, I show the minute long clip:

Then, I show students the storyboard for that sequence (emphasizing that it is only the last four frames of the storyboard that correspond to the minute long video content):


As I pass out 2 copies of an 8-frame storyboard template to each group (found here), I tell students that it should be enough for their 1-1 1/2 minute video, but that they can use more if they find it necessary.  I encourage students to also write on the lines below each box a summary of what they would want to voice over (or include as text on screen instead), so that groups are also working on a script at the same time as their storyboard.

I explain that the director is ultimately responsible for the storyline and the overall flow of the video, but everybody should contribute.

I explain that there is a Video Project Timeline to follow and that the producer has to make sure that deadlines are met.

I tell students to choose a chemical reaction to feature in their video.  It can be a reaction that they discussed during brainstorming or another reaction.  I allow my students to use their electronic devices to look up chemical reactions online if they are having difficulty choosing one.  

I also pass out two grading rubrics at this time.  I explain that the Video Preproduction Scoring Rubric will be used on Day 5 of the project to assess where groups are and the Video FINAL PRODUCT Scoring Rubric will be used to grade the final video.

I also open the discussion up for questions at this point.

Included in storyboarding is the importance of writing a script.  I tell students that a script does not need to look like a written play on paper--it can simply be sentences that they plan to read as a narration voice over.  I make sure students understand that it is NOT OPTIONAL, however, and they need to document what they plan to say.  I explain that this is so that they are not wasting time in editing recording and re-recording their voiceovers AND so that they have planned exactly what is important to include in their narration.  Explanations that are clear, concise, and delivered slowly with enunciation will help students who view their videos understand the complicated concept of a chemical reaction far better than sloppy explanations that are recorded off-the-cuff.

Having a script that can be checked off is included in the Preproduction Scoring Rubric to further emphasize its necessity.

Independent Group Work -- Developing Storyline

30 minutes

During the next 20 minute time block, students should be working on their storyboards.  If groups still have not decided what chemical reaction they are going to do, I will work with them for a few minutes each until they have a reaction finalized.

I walk around visiting each group to make sure that everyone is on task and groups are discussing storylines including all members.  I also remind groups that while the Director is responsible for taking the lead on the storyboard and determining the flow of the video, everybody needs to have a voice in the final decision.

If groups are asking questions about their specific reaction, or they want to find out additional information, I allow them to appropriately use their cell phones with internet connection or they can use a laptop connected to the internet at the classroom computer station (which houses 5 laptops plugged into the ethernet ports on my wall).  These are the same computers that will be available for video editing if students wish later.


Here is a close-up sample of one group's storyboard:

During days 3 and 4 of the project, students used these storyboards to guide their set construction and film narration.  While days 3 and 4 of this project do not warrant lesson plans (they are really group work time with my help as a facilitator), I did want to include a few photos to show students using the storyboards.  The storyboards are quite visible as students work and a good storyboard made for far less work (and sources of arguments) later.