One physics professor’s conceptualization of life at the nanolevel has come to life in the form of a stop-motion animation.
Zoom In! The Lotus is an animated educational video designed to introduce kindergarten, first, second, and third graders to the basic concepts of nanoscience. The video follows the story of Gwen Pym, a young nanoscientist who can transform into an extremely miniaturized version of herself to study things at the nanolevel.
Nancy Sandler, an associate professor in The Department of Physics and Astronomy, received a $9,635 grant from the American Physical Society in 2012 to create the educational video.
The animation is being created in a joint effort between the Department of Physics and Astronomy and students from the School of Media Arts & Studies, who are being led by Visiting Assistant Professor Kate Raney. Between story design, set construction, filming, and post-production work, Raney said it has taken her team over a year of hard work to complete the animation.
“Over the course of the project we’ve had about 25 students involved. Many of the animators were new to working in stop motion animation, but have gained invaluable experience on Zoom In,” Raney said.
In the animation, Gwen flies through the forest on the back of a beetle and learns the secret to keeping her clothes water and dirt free using the leaves of a lotus flower, which repel moisture due to its ridged surface.
“A lotus leaf has a particular structure. When looked at closely, the surface is made out of bumps that are very close together, so close that the water droplets just roll off the surface. Dirt attaches to the water molecules and leaves with them,” Sandler explained.
Free copies of the animation have recently been sent to elementary schools in Ohio to help students learn about the secrets of nanoscience. Sandler and Raney are hoping to make a whole series of animations featuring the nanoadventures of Gwen.
The idea for this project initially came when Sandler and her husband, Sergio Ulloa, had trouble finding educational science materials for their daughter, Julia. “All this started because we were looking for science books for our daughter. We had no idea how much work it would be,” Sandler said.
You can see the animation online as well as read about the entire animation and production process on the MDIA student blog.
Original Article By Angie Faller,
Nanoscale and Quantum Phenomena Institute (NPQI)
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