Poly is 21st Century Skills! 6th Graders Use iPads to Create Cell Division Animations


Latest Educational Advance in Cutting-Edge iPad Pilot Program

Poly’s 6th grade science students are using their iPads to create animations of cell division in the most recent use of this innovative classroom tool in Poly’s Middle School.
 
In October 2012, with the launch of Poly’s iPad Pilot Program, all 6th graders in Poly’s Middle School were given a 32GB Apple iPad to use for classroom work, homework, research, and collaboration with their teachers. The iPad Pilot Program is one way that Poly is bringing 21-st century skills to Middle School students.
 
Ann Oransoff (Senior Technology Coordinator; Grade 6 Advisor) said that she is working on a project with Linda Aponte P’13 (6th Grade Science) in which students are creating animations of cell division using iPads rather than drawing the process on paper.
 
On a recent morning, 6th grader Chloe Sun ’19 was very eager to show the Pulse how she and other 6th grade science students at Poly have been using their new iPads to create an animation of cell division, which they are currently studying in class.
 
Aponte explained that the study of cell division is the most complex part of the 6th grade science curriculum. In approaching the teaching of cell division this year, she considered having the students make a flipbook to animate the process. A parent suggested that she have the students use their iPads to create an animation, instead. When Aponte suggested this to her class, she found that Chloe Sun ‘19 had already experimented with a program called “Animation Desk” on her iPad. Aponte suggested having students do the project on their iPads for extra credit. About 10 students decided to attempt the project. Aponte said she might have several of the students, such as Sun, who are more proficient in the animation program, give a tutorial to others in the class.
 
Sun explained to the Pulse that she began the animation project by creating 48 slides or files showing the progression of cell division, beginning with interphase and moving through the four stages of mitosis or cell splitting and cell copying—prophase, metaphase, anaphase, and telophase—before the completion of cytokinesis, the process in which a single cell divides its cytoplasm to develop two “daughter” cells.
 
Sun, Georgina Blackwell '19, and Elizabeth Levin '19 showed how they and their fellow students had drawn the major parts of a cell, including the cell membrane, the nuclear membrane, nucleolus, chromatin, centrioles, and chromosomes in the progression of slides.
 
Aponte explained that the animation was a great way to represent the process because cell division “is life, it is moving, and not static.”
 
Oransoff said the iPads are not only a “helpful tool” in science class, but also in other disciplines.
 
Sun said that using the Animation Desk program was difficult at first, but she has gotten the hang of it. Oransoff has helped the students to calibrate to the correct number of “frames per second,” required to create the illusion of movement for the human eye and brain. Sun told the Pulse that her animation now runs at about 6 frames per second. She hit a button to move from one slide to the next and used her finger on the screen to write labels for the various slides.
 
Aponte said that in having students use their iPads for such projects, teachers must be “mindful about whether it is helping them learn” and said the iPad should be used “as a tool” to further student engagement with new ideas and information.
 
For a photo gallery about the 6th graders use of iPads to animate celldivision, click here.
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