Space Stories Created Through a Collaboration of Animation Students and Astronomers

What if you put a team of astronomers and a class of animation students together to try to explain the mysteries of the Universe? Since 2013, NASA scientists have worked with students at Maryland Institute College of Art to produce a series of animations based on research related to black holes, pulsars, dark matter, and more.

A strikingly original collaboration between animation students and astronomers, AstroAnimation tells space stories in an unusual way. Each animation portrays a principle of space science and is accompanied by a brief summary of how the partners worked together.

For example, Coloring with Fermi invites a child to open a coloring book about the space observatory Fermi. As the child colors each page, some pages come to life, putting the child and the viewer into space with Fermi, watching and learning from a mentor, as they talk about what Fermi is and what it does.

The hybrid animation Gravitational Wave Surfers combines a 3D environment and stop-motion figures. Using the plot of “gravitational wave surfers” to comically portray the effect of gravitational waves, the characters explain the theory in ridiculous surfer lingo.

Currently AstroAnimation hosts 65 animated space stories—all great for STEAM lessons. After watching the stories, students can discuss the science and critique the animations.

The animated stories are freely available for noncommercial use provided attribution is given and they are not modified.

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