The 2009 UK Schools Computer Animation Competition

Lead Research Organisation: University of Manchester
Department Name: Computer Science


We propose to organise and administer a Computer Animation competition open to all UK schoolchildren aged 7-19. The competition will run January-May 2009.Entrants, who must be registered to enter by their teacher, will be invited to create and submit a short computer graphics animation. There will be a requirement that the animation must have some link to one or more topics from the National Curriculum. There will be four age categories: KS2, KS3, KS4, and 16-plus, and entries may be submitted by individuals or teams.In the 2008 competition, we specified that animations must be created using freely-available software from Carnegie-Mellon University called Alice. Its creators describe it as an educational software that teaches students computer programming in a 3D environment . Alice features a simple drag-and-drop interface which allows the rapid creation of animations of 3D figures in landscapes. We found that Alice is more suitable for younger children, so in order to attract more entries from the upper age groups, we propose to introduce two other softwares which may be used to create the animations: Flash and Scratch. Flash is popular professional multimedia software from Adobe Systems. Software to view Flash animations is freely available for all web browsers, but software to author Flash animations must be purchased from Adobe Systems (there are several free Flash authoring systems from third parties, but in our experience these are not robust).Scratch is freely-available interactive multimedia educational software from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It is intended to teach basic computer programming concepts using simple manipulations of graphics, images and shapes. Before the closing date of the competition, entrants submit their animations directly to The University of Manchester, using a web-based submission system already in place, following the 2008 competition. The project team will then pre-judge entries, and create a shortlist to be passed onto a panel of 6 external judges, who will select overall award winners in the different age and team/individual categories. There will also be a number of special awards such as Best use of music and Best link to the National Curriculum , which serve to spread awards around a larger number of entrants. The judges will be selected from contacts we already have in the fields of Education, Communication, Art, Computer Graphics, Computer Game Development, and Public Engagement.Prizes (laptops, software, tokens and certificates) will be awarded at a public Film Show and Awards Ceremony, to be held at MOSI in June 2009. Attendance at this event will be free for all interested school parties (subject to the venue's capacity), and Prize Winners will attend a special Winners' Lunch.Following the Awards Ceremony, winning entries will be posted on a public website and press releases circulated to the media, and relevant schools contacts across the UK.


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