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Online animations bring science to life

Education

A HIGH SCHOOL teacher who wanted to inspire his students to study science has had his online animations viewed millions of times worldwide.

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Rhys Lewis, who teaches at Adelaide High School in South Australia, uses animation and imagery in the free video lessons to illustrate key scientific concepts in the areas of physics, chemistry and biology.

After having success with his video in the classroom Lewis was approached by the University of South Australia in 2013 to make the content available for all students.

Since then the project has received international acclaim for its materials and the videos have been viewed more than 10 million times in the last two-and-a-half years.

The Science Photo Library has featured videos from the program as their “clip of the week” nine times alongside NASA and National Geographic.

Because the videos can be viewed at any time, teachers can more easily capture the attention of students and make learning an interactive, fun experience.

“It allows students to become independent learners,” Lewis said.

“A lot of the times students aren’t in the mood to learn either because they are tired or because they experience personal problems at home. The program really allows the students to get access to high quality materials and learn at their own pace.

“Not only that, it also acts as a tool for teachers who are able to do adequate research in regards to lessons and can prepare in any way they see necessary.”

The lectures, ranging from 10 to 45 minutes in length, cover senior high school curriculum for chemistry, biology and physics.

They contain animated and illustrated videos of scientific definitions, processes and real world applications.

“The animation work is produced by myself and a number of artists that I work with around the world,” Lewis said.

“Right now only science lectures are available, but it’s only the beginning and we will eventually branch out into other areas as well.”

Lewis is working on similar programs for students in grades 6-10.

He also works with a company in the United Kingdom to provide animation-based science content commercially.

Head of University of South Australia College Stephen Dowdy said the online lectures had provided additional resources for students to take control of their learning.

“The work that Rhys is doing is leading the world in being able to establish resources that are exciting and that present with clarity some of the things that students have had to try and visualise,” he said.

“That is the key concept to it, that they can see and test their knowledge.”

Lewis said he had seen a big improvement in student participation and academic results since he began making content available online.

“There has been a huge increase in the number of enrolments in science subjects, which I am more proud of than their grades,” he said. “Ninety one per cent of our graduates last year have gone on to pursue science or mathematics at university.”

South Australia is also home to riaus.tv , a dedicated online science television channel of free high-quality science-based content operated by the by Australian science communication organisation RiAus.

This is a Creative Commons story from The Lead South Australia, a news service providing stories about innovation in South Australia. Please feel free to use the story in any form of media. The story sources are linked in with the copy and all contacts are willing to talk further about the story.

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