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Animating Science with Monikie, Newbigging, Burnside and Woodlands Primary Schools

Animating Science Update

27 May 2021

In addition to filling Create Space with fun activities and organising workshops and events, our Learning team also work with schools, community groups and other organisations on a variety of different projects. One of these ongoing projects is Animating Science, delivered in partnership with the University of Dundee’s School of Life Sciences, which aims to develop stop motion animation skills with pupils and teachers, support them to create films about Life Science concepts, and increase engagement in science generally. Following on from the launch and results of the pilot project, we took Animating Science to different Carnoustie cluster schools, including Monikie Primary School, Newbigging Primary School, Burnside Primary School and Woodlands Primary.

To start each project, scientists from Dundee University's School of Life Sciences took experiments and activities into each school. The pupils then re-interpreted this learning and research as ‘scenes’ and storyboards that could be animated. With support of DCA Learning Coordinator Andrew Low and freelance artist/animators Bruce Husband and Ian Tayac, each group set about creating their own stop motion animation around a different science topic. 


Monikie Primary School & Newbigging Primary School

These two schools worked together on a collaborative animation project from May 2019. They focused on the theme of DNA and inheritance, creating this wonderful stop motion animation called DNA Differences:

The title sequence for this film was inspired by one pupil’s brilliant use of a mathematical calculation for revealing letters one by one. This pupil explained his concept to intrigued classmates and a small team worked together over four hours to animate the ten second sequence - a really good learning experience for all. 

"I was really impressed that the scientists were female as this really challenged some of the stereotypes initially held and has led to some of the girls talking about possible careers in science! I also liked how the project was structured in that the children were all placed in small groups and each with a particular focus, this made it far harder for some of the pupils to ‘hide behind’ more confident peers and ensured that everyone had a voice and was able to unleash their creativity." Class teacher, Monikie Primary School


Burnside Primary School

In February 2020, 47 pupils from two P6/7 classes started planning for two films inspired by the topic of plant life cycles. The classes worked really well together, storyboarding two very different films and creating a wealth of fantastic characters and background artwork. They were all ready to begin the animation process, but then lockdown hit in March 2020 and brought the project to a halt. 


Woodlands Primary

Starting in February 2020, 35 pupils from P6/7 focused on making films on the topics of bacterial invasive infections and viral infections of the immune system. The pupils got going with a lot of enthusiasm, creating storyboards and preparing all aspects of the pre-production processes before the March 2020 lockdown stopped the project.

The pupils did manage to create some animation tests as part of their preparations, take a look:


While we were disappointed not to be able to finish the project with Burnside Primary School and Woodlands Primary, we are now working to create a series of animatics that will reflect the look, feel and scientific content of the films that would have been made had the projects run as planned. Using the pupils' drawings, backgrounds, characters and storyboards, our Learning team, Life Sciences Public Engagement and the schools will create a new resource to help with future projects.

We hope you've enjoyed taking a look at what the pupils achieved. From the feedback the pupils shared it seems like they had fun and learned a lot too:

 "[Helped me] to get understanding of how much effort went in to Toy Story!"

"I learned a lot of science."
"Helped me work with other people in a team or group."
"Helped me with patience which helped me with other things."
"[Helped me] to get understanding of how much effort went in to Toy Story!"

And it looks like they've caught the animation bug: 

“I really like that it not only brings science to life but can be used across all other curricular areas too eg.my current class have been creating some Gruffalo animations during a Scots topic. The children are also keen to create animations at home and share them with the rest of the class which is what education is all about! “ Teacher, Monikie and Newbigging P.S.

If you'd like to try your hand at some stop motion animation, take a look at our Monday Makes: Animation Taster


Animating Science is a DCA partnership with the University of Dundee’s School of Life Sciences as part of the School’s wider Public Engagement programme. This exciting project is delivered under the STEAM banner (Science Technology Engineering Arts Mathematics) and is supported by funding from Wellcome and the Medical Research Council. For more information contact learning@dca.org.uk.

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