Monday, October 6, 2008

pivot for stem

our friends at geekdads are at it again, with the Pivot Stick Figure Editor is a Great Animation Tool for Kids post. ken introduced us to a cool tool called pivot. its basically a stick figure animation tool;

Pivot makes creating individual frames really easy, and moving animations is based on a simple click and drag process. Each figure has different points (red dots) that can be manipulated and a single point (yellow dot) to move the whole figure. A simple left-hand-side toolbar has about 5 or 6 options which are simple to grasp and not overwhelming for young users.

So I began to create a stick figure waving at us from the computer screen and within a couple of minutes I had about 5-10 seconds of animation. Within 5 minutes, my four year old and six year old were asking for a turn. They mastered the basic concept very quickly. Together we worked out you could insert any jpg background from the hard-drive and they were away.

Despite my own beliefs in the capacity of children and their ability to do things that we never acknowledge (so never see them do), I was amazed at the speed at which they picked up the basic concepts using Pivot. After a few days they had realized they could create their own stick figures to animate and had begun to use the simple drawing tool to save their own stick figure props like beds, cannons and barbells.

so, i thought this posting was pretty cool. it seems like something a teacher can bring into a computer class and make a lesson out of it. so, i decided to try pivot out.

here's what i thought;
  • its not the easiest thing in the world to get started with. i started up the program thinking that i would create an awesome demo animation. no such luck. i made one really lame animation.

  • as i worked through my own animation i'm not sure what i was learning. but, its definitely true that i was thinking. or maybe i was just confused on how to make my stick figure run.

  • i got the hang of it, but i quickly got a little impatient. it wasn't flashy enough.

  • well, those seemed negative. the fact that i made an animation is really cool. i had fun making it and running through the examples. i think its a pretty cool little application. here is my lame animation;

    (click on the image to see my animation)

    maybe its an entry point to bigger and better animation software. i don't know about that. but, i definitely think its shows kids that computers is cool and fun. to me thats the main point. it got me thinking. i think thats 90% of the battle. kick starting imagination is key!

    ps. i'm thinking there must be hundreds of these little applications that teaches something different. i have a few others i want to share...

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