Combining Science & Art in “Evolution”

This animation about evolution is the best combination of science and art that I’ve seen in a very long time. Creator Tyler Rhodes has captured the essence of good science education by tapping in to the natural desire of kids to create something. Instead of “STEM” (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), Rhodes adds the “A” from “Art” into the mix and we get “STEAM.”

I love how he starts with a simple drawing of a salamander, then invites the kids to draw the same creature, knowing there will be small differences, just as they occur in the theory of evolution. You can read a full account of his design process in thisScientific American article.

I especially liked the simulated 3-D in the evolution video. I first encountered this technique last summer when I finally took some time to learn Adobe AfterEffects. I can’t believe I waited so long to dive into this software, having used Photoshop for many years. AfterEffects is something like a Photoshop for video, and I love using it!

I made this video from still pictures I took when we were on vacation in Colorado. You too can learn the technique in this Video Copilot tutorial about creating a simulated 3-D picture with AfterEffects.

I am really amazed at the stunning visual effects in the Evolution video. I have a long way to go before I can tell a digital story on this level, but at least now I have an idea of what is possible.

One thought on “Combining Science & Art in “Evolution”

  1. Bill,

    What a jaw-dropping animation Tyler Rhodes produced. It just blew me away and I had to follow the link to see how it was laid down. I am quite tech illiterate (but learning) but I do have a high appreciation for other’s talents and innovations. Given enough time and patience I believe I too could make a drawing come to life.

    As a preservice teacher at USA I am encouraged to embrace the technology wave and to better prepare myself for the 21st century student. Art is too often a casualty of limited resources. And in some schools so is science. I have seen that combining an art form into the lesson plan stimulates the creative bend all children have and leads to better understanding and knowledge retention. I know it does for me. And if it makes a difficult lesson run a lot smoother then kudos! STEAM- so much better than STEM!

    Loved the 3-D effects. I definitely will follow up on that concept in the future…this summer in fact. As I read and reread your posts I find myself repeating, “How cool is that!” over and over. Thank you for sharing so many creative and exciting concepts. I look forward to the next ones!

    Laura Holifield
    EDM310, USA
    My Blog

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