Students create a "bouncing ball" animation on Google Slides. They start by drawing or downloading a ball to use in the animation. Students make the ball move by making a copy of a slide with a ball and moving it slightly on the duplicate slide. The Squash and Stretch principle is used to make the ball bounce when it hits the edge of a slide. Students will need a basic understanding of Google Slides and around 45 minutes to complete the project.
When I show students how to make an animation in Google Slide, they are often surprised that you can make an animation by duplicating slides and moving a drawing. Even though most kids have seen a lot of animation, they don’t necessarily understand how it works. This is similar to the early days of animation when just creating an animation was a big deal. People were amazed by drawings that looked like they were moving on their own. Emile Cohl's Fantasmagorie, which was the first fully animated cartoon and was made in 1908, was just a series of nonsensical drawings on a chalkboard.
Why this Activity?
The ball bounce animation is the first animation activity I do with students because it's easy and they can learn about two of the most important animation principles: Timing and Squash & Stretch. The Timing Principle says that you need more images if you want a slow animation than if you want a fast animation. When students move the ball between slides, it goes faster if they move it farther, which means they need fewer slides. If they move it only a little between slides, which results in more slides, it moves slowly. The Squash and Stretch principle says that objects have elasticity. Using the Squash & Stretch principle, as the ball bounces, it gets squashed and then gets stretched out. This makes it look more like a real ball.
Start the activity by showing the students different ball bounce animations. The presentation slideshow for this activity has several of them. The slideshow presentation also has a tutorial that shows how to make an animation of a ball bouncing in Google Slides.
Give the kids a minute to think about how they want their slides to look before they start making them. Here are some questions that might help them plan:
What kind of ball am I going to use?
Where is the ball going?
What background should I use, and how does it relate to the ball?
They may also consider the ways in which something as basic as a ball bounce could be changed. They could, for example, race or bounce two balls against each other, spin the ball as it moves (this works well with an image of a ball downloaded from the Internet), or bounce a basketball into a goal.
Encourage students to take their time making their first slide, since they will be making many copies of it. Students should only move the ball a little bit between slides. If they move the ball around a lot between slides, the final animation will be jerky and look more like a slideshow than an animation. It’s important that students make enough slides, or else their animation will be very short. I require my students to make at least 100 slides, which is still only about 10 seconds of animation.
There are a couple of ways students can see their completed animation. One way is to go to the first slide, then hold down the arrow key. The slides will go by at about 15 frames per second, which is good for a simple animation. A second way is to publish the slideshow to the web and change the timing of the transitions. There is a tutorial in the resource section that shows how to do this. This creates an animation that runs on its own. Publishing to the web also makes it possible for students to share a slideshow presentation that no one else can change. Students can easily share a link to their animation by posting it in a Google Doc that is shared with everyone in the class.
Students don't have to use Google Slides to make these animations; they can also use PowerPoint or other similar presentation software. But there are some benefits to making animations with Google Slides. Google accounts are free, and many schools already provide them to students. Since Google Slides is web-based, students can work on their animations at home.
You can show the following videos to the whole class or use them as student resources.