What is Cell Division? The cells in our body divide? Is it really happening in my body right now? Yuck!! These are several comments that were made in my 7th grade Life Science Classroom when I introduced Cell Division. This is a concept that I have found in the past to be a very difficult concept for students to understand. They can’t see it therefore they don’t grasp it. I had to find a way to bring Cell Division to life and I did it by introducing my students to Claymation.
Students at Davis Middle School bring Cell Division to life through Claymation
For a week my 7th grade Life Science students at Davis Middle School in Hampton, Virginia made Mitosis Claymation movies. They were divided into groups (4-5 students per group) and each group was given a Digital Camera, a Memory Card for their pictures, a Tripod for their camera, and 4 containers of Play-doh. On Day 1 students watched examples of Mitosis Claymations found on youtube.com. I showed the students the examples using my laptop computer and a LCD projector. Students also created storyboards so they had an idea how they wanted to create their movie. Day 2 was a very hands-on day. Students made their cell membrane and nuclear membrane out of Play-doh and created all 6 phases of Cell Division. Every little movement they made with the Play-doh they took a picture using their digital cameras and tripods. They were told that the more pictures they took, the better their claymation movie was going to be. I saw and heard students that had not done well on the Cell Division test take control of the groups and direct the movements of the Play-doh through the different phases.
Day 3-5 was in the computer lab actually creating their movies. The students first imported all of their pictures from the memory cards into iPhoto. Then the created a total of 7 slides using PowerPoint Presentation. They had to have a Title Slide to introduce their movie and then a slide for each of the phases. Each slide had to include a photo of each phase that they took the day before. After they were done with the slides they saved them as JPEG files and imported them into iPhoto. Once in all photos and slides were in iPhoto it was time for the students to create their movie. We used the GarageBand program to create Podcast Movies. Students imported their slides, recorded their voices reading the slides, and added jingles for an additional effect. Once all Slides and recordings were added, students imported the pictures they took real close together so that their pictures will look like one continual motion and not individual pictures. This was another place where students that are hands-on learners excelled.
Students not only learn about Cell Division, but also technology that they will be able use in real world situations and in school.
All students were involved and excited about this project. Not only were they learning about Cell Division but they were also learning computer and technology skills that they will be able use in real world situations and in school. This was my first time doing this project and I will definitely use it again and will look for other ways I can use it in my class. I highly recommend it for any teacher, in any subject.
Contact Shannon Aldrich
Davis Middle School, Hampton, Virigina
7th grade Life Science