January 30, 2011

Aboriginal storytelling via 3D software

Computer animation helps students preserve first nation stories

By Roszan HolmenIt’s a story of the Saanich people Andy Smith-Harry has known for years.

A teacher told him the tale of a lady named Ciye, who is picking blueberries when the creator turns her into a blue bird. For the past few months, the LÁU,WELNEW Tribal School student has worked to animate the story using 3D software called Alice.

“It was a lot of work,” said Smith-Harry, adding it’s a good way to teach the beliefs of the different stories.

His project is part of a program launched by Camosun College called ANCEStor, which aims to engage aboriginal youth in computer programming through traditional storytelling.
Camosun receives $54,000 for Aboriginal youth computer science project

NSERC grant provides $18,000 in each of three years to support development of ANCEStor projectCamosun College is one of 51 organizations across Canada to receive funding from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), as part of the PromoScience funding aimed at inspiring young people to choose careers in science and engineering.

Camosun will receive $18,000 in each of three years to develop a pilot program known as ANCEStor (Aboriginal youth awareNess of ComputEr Science.) ANCEStor teaches the concepts of computer programming by engaging Aboriginal youth in cultural story-telling.

“The value of story-telling as a teaching tool is well recognized,” says Dr. Marla Weston, computer science instructor and one of the project leaders. “Telling a story gives value and significance to events that have meaning in their lives. Students will learn more if they feel empowered as participants, rather than being passive recipients of knowledge.”

ANCEStor uses Alice 3D software to create videos and simple computer games.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Nanabush Videos Teach Ojibwe and Rising Stars in Native Animation.

Below:  "Andy Smith-Harry used 3D software to animate a story from the Saanich First Nation. Behind him, a scene from his minute-long video shows a blue bird in flight." (Roszan Holmen/News staff)

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