Lights, Camera, Animation!

Education through videoconferencing
 Amanda Paroz
A thaumatrope demonstration in front of the green screen at the Questacon studio

With four sessions run over two weeks, students from kinder to year six were engaged, educated and entertained when the NFSA, in conjunction with Questacon, the National Science and Technology Centre, went live with our first classroom-based educational videoconference Let’s Get Animated.

Let’s Get Animated is a videoconference program for primary school-aged students that was inspired by a successful onsite education program for schools visiting Canberra, Animation Showdown.


The 45-minute program was developed around the New South Wales Creative Arts and Science and Technology curricula and features a selection of clips that explore the evolution of animation technology and art, the viewing of animation artefacts and the creation of a thaumatrope (a simple two frame pre-cinema toy).

This pilot program was developed to explore the possibilities of classroom-based videoconference education for those groups unable to visit the NFSA’s Canberra headquarters, giving students from regional areas – most of whom had never heard of NFSA, let alone visited it – the opportunity to actively explore, engage and interpret the collection. By having an NFSA educator run the session, the teacher and students had access to an expert who not only curated moving image clips but was able to facilitate discussions and answer sometimes sticky questions.
NFSA onsite educator Amanda Paroz showing an animation cel to a school group

Despite the nerves about presenting in front of a camera and how we would work around image and sound delays, the sessions ran smoothly and the feedback from schools was overwhelmingly positive. Students were often surprised at how much they enjoyed exploring older animation clips and thrilled at creating their own thaumatropes. Comments such as ‘That was cool – can we do it again?’ (Jock, year 3 student) and ‘Can we please make some of our own animations?’ (Isabelle, year 6 student) provided strong anecdotal evidence of the program’s success.

Furthermore, teachers were impressed with the range of clips and activities as well as the engagement of their students. Peter, a primary school teacher, emailed us to say ‘I have been involved in several video conferences now and I was particularly impressed with the quality of resources and the preparation that had gone into developing the mixed series of activities. I will definitely look at future VCs from NFSA as students were engaged and inspired.’
The educators behind the Let’s Get Animated video conference, Alison Mercieca (NFSA), Natalie Sullivan (Questacon), and Amanda Paroz (NFSA).

After the success of our pilot series, the NFSA education team is looking to work with Questacon again in 2013 to co-develop further videoconference explorations into the science and technology of moving image and recorded sound. As with Let’s Get Animated, these sessions will feature interesting clips, amazing artefacts and the opportunity to create something special. Most importantly, however, these programs will again give students in regional and remote areas the opportunity to interact with the NFSA in an engaging and inspiring way.