Jamaican animator facilitates virtual STEAM summer camp

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By STEM Caribbean | Posted on August 29, 2020

Jamaican animator, David Martin, facilitates virtual STEAM summer camp | Photo Courtesy SchoolToonz

Jamaican founder of SchoolToonz, David Martin, is proud of the outcome of a recent virtual summer camp that the organisation facilitated. Schooltoonz established the Schooltoonz Animation Club to provide training and workshops in the Caribbean region. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year the organisation made the club’s activities and training digital in July for students across the Caribbean. In an interview with STEM Caribbean, David described the camp and shared his thoughts on the camp’s outcome.  

Initially scheduled for 8 days, the camp ran for an extended period of 12 days to accommodate the students’ broad interests in the camp’s activities. A typical day of the camp involved 2 hours of sessions on platforms such as Zoom and Google Meet. Following those sessions, the students and educators networked and interacted on WhatsApp, and Schoology, a virtual learning platform.   

Students who participated in the workshop ranged from age 9 to 18 years old. During the camp, they were engaged in thrilling collaborative activities, including designing a video game and an animated series.  They also explored careers and opportunities in the animation industry and gained knowledge on relevant topics, including fundamentals of animation and how to develop ideas in animation and video games.   

Video Courtesy of SchoolToonz

To add to the camp’s thrill, two amateur animators and one professional texture artist presented to the students during the camp. According to David, those presenters were: Caitlyn Cadet, a 16-year-old YouTuber; Nahshon Matthews, a 17-year-old illustrator; and Jamaican Wayne Carnegie, a professional texture artist based in Canada with experience in films such as The Nut Job and Trollhunters: Tales of Arcadia.  

Video Courtesy of SchoolToonz

Although there were technical challenges and scheduling conflicts during the camp, the educators and students were able to adapt and make necessary changes.   

“The first challenge was the threat of a tropical storm. There were also instances where we had poor internet connection and power cuts; however, we quickly adapted and used platforms like StreamYard that allowed us to conduct lessons and record them to YouTube,” said David.  

“Some students were active in other camps; hence we had to implement a flexible schedule for them. We also had to make concessions as most students lacked equipment for animation as it was an introductory course. Some parents promised to invest in equipment such as tablets and computer upgrades,” he added.   

At the end of the camp, the students learned techniques on how to pitch a story idea and worked on developing a pitching bible, which is a tool or document used to convey concepts and details of a story idea.   

Despite the challenges and the loss of a student, David expressed that the camp turned out to be a success.  

“It was a bittersweet experience as one of our young campers died during the exercise, but overall it was a great regional initiative,” he said.  

David further remarked that the camp increased the students’ awareness of opportunities in animation and helped bolster their confidence.  

“It generated awareness about the opportunities in the animation industries, it built students confidence in organizing their original ideas and developing them into viable animation or game ideas. They especially loved the idea of collaborating with each other internationally. Parents also express their pleasure as they saw their kids gain confidence to develop their art and in public speaking.”   

Following this summer camp, David highlighted that an animation club will be launched in November.  

“The camp is a precursor to the Caribbean Animation Kids club, to be launched in November 2020. All current campers will be inducted as representatives for their countries.”   

Anyone interested in the animation club can contact SchoolToonz via WhatsApp at +1 (876) 802-3286 with the message #animationkidsclub.

Want to share an opportunity or story? Email us at info@stemcaribbean.com.

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