Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Tufts Center for Engineering Education and Outreach

After posting a link to my experiment with stop-motion animation, I received an email from Ethan Danahy at the Center for Engineering Education and Outreach at Tufts University. He encouraged me to try out the center's SAM Animation It seemed really interesting, and I wanted a chance to learn more about the center before officially leaving Tufts.

I had the pleasure of meeting Danahy this July. He took me on a full tour and shared information about the center's work with me. I kept thinking, "Why am I just finding this place now?" I would have loved the opportunity to work with them throughout my graduate studies. They are truly amazing!

Turns out, I did work with CEEO. They run a LEGO program called STOMP, which introduces engineering and robotics concepts to school-aged children (schools, home schools, and camps) using LEGOS. STOMP engineers visited my Kindergarten class in 2010. They loved working with the engineers and really adopted the process of designing, building, and testing their work. This program seems to be the center's most popular. The center has partnered with LEGO to develop engineering education programs.

Now onto SAM. SAM is a program that assists in stop-motion animation. It was developed at the center and used primarily to teach science and engineering concepts. It seems like the perfect STEM tool. I'm excited to experiment with it myself, just for fun. There is a version available online for free! You can read more about SAM, watch some videos, and get the program here.

Danahy gave me a tip about doing stop-motion in the future: the quality isn't necessarily your software, but your camera and your lighting. He recommended using a webcam and attaching it to a stand that the center helped design. Teachers can purchase classroom kits that allow stop-motion animation work to be part of the learning day. I think the program would be particularly interesting for New York City teachers who use the Moving Image Arts Blueprint.

CEEO's products are "research informed and classroom tested." Definitely check out the center and experiment with SAM. Feel free to post links to your SAM experiments here!

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