I have been helping out over the last 5 weeks in an after school animation club.
Here at the school i am placed in you can choose from a series of after school clubs there are several that range from Art club to hockey right across the board to the one i am helping in Animation club. These extra curricular clubs are brilliant as the give the kids the opportunity to do something that they really enjoy outside of the normal school day. The benefit of this is that it’s a more relaxed time that is not like being in a lesson and it also gives them more opportunity to explore and get into the club they have chosen.
In our animation club we are using two main programs. One is Macromedia Flash MX and the other is Scratch from MIT.
Most of the kids that come are either year 7 or 8 and so scratch is extremely popular as it is really easy to use and get to grips with but still requires the ability to logically program the sequence of events in their game or animation that they are making. It has the “High ceiling yet low complexity” benefit as everything is done using simple to understand bolt together modules.
At the moment we been really just allowing the kids to get to grips with scratch and then encouraging them to think of and plan a game or animation that could work. We have had to give them ideas and prompt them to stick to one project as they are quite easily distracted by all the other games that people have made.
I have been mainly going round answering and helping them one to one with their own projects and working particularly with a select few who’s projects I have been able to get to grips with.
It has been so rewarding to go through their ideas and watch them turn that into a real life game. One chap is making a simple game that has a main character that shoots the baddies that parachute down the screen and then walk to attack him. There is even a boss at the end who is harder to kill. We have been looking at how we can use the variables to create good game play and also how we can create realistic animation in the physical sense.
One of the thing I have learned is that you need to prompt the kids but not do it all for them so its important to give them the mouse and get them to figure it out with your guidance. This way they remember it more and more and are then able to go away and do this on their own.
The other brilliant thing is that it has given me the opportunity to broaden my own subject knowledge as I have to really think on the spot when helping the kids and at times we are both learning the program together. Thankfully I have been able to pick up the program quicker than they have and am then able to really help them develop their skills.
Our numbers are running low at the moment so we are about to introduce a 3d animation program called Mission Maker which looks amazing. It allows them to make fully 3D games without having to create everything from scratch as all the GUI is created and the coding is done through a form field rather than through a coding language. Again it has great (High ceiling) results but is not that complicated to use or control.
We are expecting the number to increase with the introduction of this new program Mission Maker and I’m really looking forward to getting to grips with it.
All in all it’s really great to get involved with extra curricular activities out of the classroom and to use that as a chance to broaden my subject knowledge and invest in the kids that want to go deeper with this ever growing area of animation.