Saturday, December 19, 2015

The 5 Best STEM Animations For 2016

Source: scenes., WWF Brazil - Marine Program

2015 was a banner year for animations to engage students. These dynamic explainer videos proved definitively that print textbooks cannot keep up with educational, up-to-date motion graphics, especially in the sciences.

The sphere of subjects that fall into STEM's orbit keeps expanding. For better or for worse, K-12 courses are now binarly split into either "STEM" or "Humanities" categories. We would argue that this bifurcation is harmful, erasing the natural overlaps between the sciences and the liberal arts.

The effect, however, is that more and more designers and educators are creating brilliant interactive companions to traditional learning. Here are five favorite animations from the past year that will allow science and math teachers (as well as those in the Humanities) to kick off 2016 with a bang:

1. Math

This lively explainer video from Vox offers a primer in chart theory, as well as a caveat for undiscerning viewers of graphs. Entitled "Shut Up About The Y-Axis. It Shouldn't Always Start At Zero," the clip reminds math students that context is key in both reading and creating data graphics.

2. Environmental & Marine Science

WWF Brazil - Marine Program from scenes. on Vimeo.

This beautiful stop-motion animation offers a moving case study about the effects of urbanization on pollution. The "WWF Brazil - Marine Program" video, made in collaboration between scenes. and Wildgroeiers, highlights critical issues of conservation and biodiversity for any age group.

3. Astronomy

BBC Earth has designed a clear and compelling motion graphic to emphasize the size of the universe and the speed of earth's galactic travels. The 3D visualization employs time and scale to bring astrophysics to life.

4. Oceanography & Earth Science

Source: Cameron Beccario

Software engineer Cameron Beccario (@cambecc) has programmed a stunning representation of the earth's weather conditions. With regularly updated ocean currents, waves, temperatures, and anomalies, this interactive globe allows students to zoom in and rotate a la Google Earth. The educational opportunities range from oceanographers analyzing climate change to historians studying ancient trade routes.

5. Medicine

Source: The Washington Post

The recent Ebola panic prompted The Washington Post to create this precise simulation that compares the disease's spread to other historical pandemics. Although the original interactive graphic pre-dates 2015, the updates are important to medical students and social scientists who are trying to track contraction, infection, transmission, and vaccination.

Honorable Mention: Ecology & Forestry

This seemingly simple motion graphic by Nature Video brings into startling relief the rate of global deforestation. Researchers made 421,529 separate measurements around the world to produce an irrefutable data-driven image of the changing planet.

For more resources, take a look at last year's five best animations, or some of our other posts about animations in the classroom:


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