Oh, that's how you do a science fair project!

Need to intro a spring science fair to your students? Here's one by a high school senior that will do the trick nicely.
Written by Christopher Dawson, Contributor

Jeez, kids these days. Not satisfied to merely participate in wildly cool science fairs and competitions sponsored by tech industry giants, now they're teaching us what we did wrong on our own science fair projects, oh so many years ago. At least that's what Kevin Temmer managed to do, all in a video which Pearson or Houghton-Mifflin would be proud to feature in a science textbook.

Personally, I blame the American educational system, circa 1985. Volcano after volcano with some mold or boring osmosis tricks thrown in for good measure. There was that year I made a giant chicken wire model of the Epstein-Barr virus, but that wasn't even an experiment...

But I digress. I stumbled across this video last week from Mr. Temmer, a senior International Baccalaureate high school student in Florida. It's 15 minutes long, so it isn't going viral anytime soon, but it's one heck of a great video to show your students if your school is getting ready for its annual science fair. While the video is directed at middle school students, it's accessible enough for kids in primary grades and slick enough to work well through a high school general science course:

Not bad, eh?

Next: Click here to read my interview with the video's creator, Kevin Temmer »

I had the chance to interview Kevin last week via email. I'm reprinting the exchange for a bit of almost-Spring inspiration:

What software did you use for the artwork, animation, and rendering? How much was hand-drawn? For the drawing and animation, I used a flash animation program called The Tab 2.2. I digitally drew the characters and backgrounds in this program and the animated them using a mixture of key frame animation along with some frame-by-frame animation. I drew the characters in pieces, making the limbs and head separate attached objects that could be moved and rotated. This allowed me to animate the characters like digital puppets. The animation was also rendered in this program and then brought into Final Cut Pro, where I edited it together with music and sound effects.

How did you decide on the length? Often, artists and marketers confine their videos to 3 minutes hoping for the best viral outcomes. I think the 15 minutes is effective and suits your audience, but were you concerned about the attention spans of your peers? For the length, I really wasn't sure how long it was going to be. As I went along, I tried to make sure that I had enough of the factual information in there, while also having some time for the song and the parts that were for mere entertainment. Once I wrapped up everything, it just happened to turn out to be 15 minutes. I did have some concern about the attention span of my viewers, but I tried to throw in fun stuff wherever I could to keep my audience's interest.

What are your college plans? I am currently deciding between the Savannah College of Art and Design and Ringling College of Art and Design, but at the moment my decisions is leaning towards Ringling. I hope to major in animation and perhaps minor in film.

Will we be seeing more of the Science Siblings? Right now, I am focusing on finishing school and am also involved in another science-related animation project, so the Science Siblings probably will not be showing up again anytime soon. However, I did develop some ideas for a possible cartoon series for them that I may approach later in my life.

Has anyone approached you about using the video more widely and have you thought about licensing? At first, I had hoped to find some opportunities to license my work, but for now I have been sharing my work with websites for free so that my video can be spread more easily among larger audiences.

What is the most valuable aspect, from your perspective, of the International Baccalaureate program? I think that the most valuable aspect of IB is the amount of effort and motivation it requires. I personally believe that determination is one of those universal virtues that are necessary in any aspect of life. Beyond the actual academics, the lesson to always head in strong and never give up until the goal is accomplished will now stick with me for the rest of my life.

This is not the sort of thing the average high school student does. Are there lessons that other students can take away from your efforts? I think that the greatest lesson that students can take away from my efforts is to always show pride in your work. My philosophy is to make sure your work entertains you before showing it to others.

What has been the most rewarding result of creating this video? There are two things that I really enjoyed about making this video. Seeing my original characters coming to life before my eyes was probably one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had. The other thing I loved about making this video was the wonderful feedback I got from people. Knowing that children are being entertained by my video is a reward that is worth more than any amount of money.

Congratulations, Kevin! You can see more of his work on his website.

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