Sketchy is a simplified drawing program for Palm OS-capable handheld computers. Included are palattes for point size, pattern fill, shapes along with a text tool and eraser (Color is on the way!). The animation tool consists of three components that enable it to function. The first is the ability to create multiple pages as you might in the pages of a flip book. Any drawing can be made on any of the pages created. Combine the multiple pages with the second piece, which is the ability to duplicate the previous page. A single tap with the stylus automatically creates another page that is an exact copy of the original. This page can then be drawn upon and subsequently duplicated and so on. Students draw many pictures, adding information as they see fit to illustrate a scientific concept. Finally, all these pictures can be played in succession in two keystrokes, making an animation of the students drawings.
The Rationale Behind the Feature (Specific Design Principle):
Understanding and working with and among multiple representations of data are central to the job of scientists and science students alike. The animation tool allows students to create dynamic representations of science phenomena, which aid in students conceptual understanding.
Context of Use:
Students have used animation as a memory device after experiments in air quality, and to illustrate their understanding of polluted v. unpolluted air and water. The most powerful way animations have helped students is during a curriculum unit on communicable diseases where students make animations showing the differences in growth between bacteria and viruses.
In post-unit interviews, students often refered to making their animations when asked how they knew what polluted air contained. As for the use of animation for growth of bacteria and viruses, we have had a number of students give presentations to peers in which they use their animations to explain their concept of bacterial growth. We are presently conducting research to understand more about the role of animations in students cognition.