In the past Audrey has supplemented the labs with projects where students create models using clay, beads, pasta and/or pipe cleaners. We wanted to provide a similar hands on approach to learning that was technologically engaging (and less messy).
Using animation to bring biology to life
Ann Larson and
Audrey Lavertu – Bishop Feehan High School
October 28, 2010
Project funded by a MassCUE 2010 Initiative Grant
Increase students’ understanding of biology
Engage students by using hands-on
computer lab activities to supplement hands-
on science lab activities.
Use animation as a way for students to
express their understanding of biological
processes and for teachers to assess
December 2009 – Animation-ish workshop in
Software Installation – February 2010
Introduce Animation-ish to students and
initial project – March 2010
Continue to use Animation-ish as a
component of online learning unit
Expand use of Animation-ish to AP Bio
Animation-ish Quick Start Guide
Ish by Peter Reynolds
Animation-ish User’s Guide
DNA Replication Project
Blood Flow through the Heart Project
AP Bio Independent/Final Project
Purpose: for students to show their understanding of the
structure of a double stranded dna and the process of dna
replication, i.e how the strand splits and nucleotides attach to
form two new double strands.
Purpose: students understand the anatomy of
the heart and the process of how blood flows
through the heart.
Learning was scaffolded using the Moodle
environment which contained diagrams,
videos, interactives and quizzes to introduce
students to the circulatory anatomy and
Animations reveal different levels of student
Students animated a course topic of their choice,
include a text description and reflection on their
learning and shared them on a class wiki
◦ “I love Animation-ish; it makes them think.” – E Cheney - BFHS
◦ “It makes the students take ownership of the learning; (they’re) working at it and trying to understand the concepts.” - A Lavertu
◦ I think it is very useful to see certain concepts in animation because it allows me to make a mental picture. Animations can
definitely help any student gain a better understanding of what biology is all about. - Madeline D. – BFHS
◦ It did help me review the steps of meiosis and further stamp them in my mind. - Meghan C.
◦ I picked this topic because I thought it would be interesting to actually see it in motion. Making the animation helped me better
understand the entire process of RNA Processing. - Ellen V.
◦ I really enjoyed this project. I like the Animation-ish program, and I feel like I had enough background information on my topic
going into the project, so it wasn't too hard to complete. Drawing out each slide helped me to see each individual part of the
process and helped me realize that the basics of the two processes are ultimately very simple. I now have a much deeper
understanding of how a cell translates a strand of DNA into a protein. - Kate H.
◦ I think that making the animation helped make explaining Mitosis easier because it is hard to explain the difference between
chromosomes and sister chromatids without being able to see it - Lauren B.
◦ I chose the process of Gel Electrophoresis for my animation because I think this process has a lot of real-world applications that
are not always fully understood. … This animation helped me understand and appreciate how useful this process really is.
Because my movie was geared towards children, I also learned how to explain the process simply so that I could convey its
importance without using a lot of words and vocabulary. Making this video was a lot of fun!. - Manasi M.
◦ I also had a good review of the ecology section of the biology book. I relearned the trophic levels and the energy transfer.
- Rosemary M
◦ I found this program to be useful in order to show how a process works; however, to be honest, I found it very tedious. ... I like
things to be neat and precise, so this application was frustrating at times – Taylor M.
◦ … show the previous year’s projects to current students during the regular school year. They would learn the concepts and have
a fun project to look forward to after the AP exam. - Alex L. – BFHS
Use of Animation helped students to focus
Use of Animation helped teachers to assess
student learning and understand where gaps
in understanding were
Use of wikis helped motivate students to
create quality product for an audience
AP Animations can be shown for next class of
students as an overview of some course
Thank you to MassCUE 2010 Grant Initiative
for the motivation and funding to provide
enhanced opportunities for students.