Monkey Labs, a series of educational video games, was developed in 2009 by game studio Larian Studios and educational book publisher die Keure (Belgium). Monkey Labs I, the first in this series, is a 3D videogame in which students have to solve various mathematics challenges. Following an intriguing narrative, the student/player sees a seemingly abandoned research complex and it is up to the player to unveil the mysteries within, and save the monkeys and scientists that are locked up inside this place of surprises and plot-twists.
Water Project H2Ooooh!
MEDEA Highly Commended 2010
Water Project H2Ooooh! is a TV-series of 3D cartoon animations that were created based on story boards developed by Italian schools. In 2010 this initiative was devised by Gruppo Alcuni in collaboration with the UNESCO Venice Office and Rai Fiction.
With “Water Project H2Ooooh!” 6,000 students ages 6 to 16 from 280 Italian schools were actively engaged to create a storyboard (or in other words a series of drawings representing the main scenes of a cartoon) on the theme of water and the issues related to its use, to its exploitation and to its limited supply. The schools took part in an educational course which included videos, books, etc which on the one hand allowed children to learn about the creation of animated cartoons and on the other hand it also encouraged a greater understanding of the situation related to water resources in our world today. The children involved in the project, along with their teachers, were given the opportunity, through specially created educational materials, to go through the whole production process of an animated cartoon. They learned how to write a story, to script it, to draw the characters, choosing frames and camera movements and also how to create a storyboard. The kids involved were able to develop, from a cognitive point of view, responses to the problems related to the water resources of our planet.
An episode of Water Project H2Ooooh!
The project has been carried out during the 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 school years and was aimed at all teachers open to participating in a creative activity on the theme of water and science with their Primary or early Secondary school classes. The teachers could collaborate with professors from the Educational Sciences Department of the University of Padua (Italy) in case any issues or problems emerged. The schools sent in their resulting story boards and 26 of them were selected to be used by professional animators using the children's original drawings. The result is a 3-D animated television series in English and Italian (Italian subtitles) with six Pet Pals as main characters focusing on the issue of water protection, which has been broadcast on the public national broadcaster Rai Due in May and June 2010. Science became fun and is now taught to children by children!
What the judges said of this entry:
The judges acknowledged that storytelling is a very common educational experience that teachers propose to their students in order to develop a variety of skills, and they believed that creating movies on the basis of scenarios developed by the learners themselves is a great initiative. Interactive multimedia technologies provide new means to support story authoring and the transmission of concepts through cartoons is a good way to promote values such as friendship, cooperation and teamwork, as well as problem analysis.
The project seems to start from concrete problems in the world in which we live and tries to promote from an early age (especially targeted to young children) good learning in this area. H2Ooooh! shows a creative project which teaches science, ethics, story creation and working in groups. Given their work with a professional team it is clear that the producers are aiming for high standards both pedagogically and visually.
About the creation of H2Ooooh!
Ms Margherita Terrazzani, Educational Project Organizator at Gruppo Alcuni srl, submitted the iniative to the MEDEA Awards and further discusses how H2Ooooh! came to be: “How this project was born? Laura Messina, Psycho-Pedagogical Advisor of Gruppo Alcuni and member of the Department of Education Science at the University of Padua, stated that the only practical way for information to reach youngsters is by involving them directly into the educational activity. Project Water H2Ooooh!” is based on the concept of a “culture for childhood”, this is the culture of “doing”, of doing things today and doing them together. This must be demonstrated through concrete facts, starting from the assumption that we, as adults, are the ones directly responsible for the Present and the Future of younger generations. In dramatic moments like the ones we are experiencing nowadays – when the company British Petroleum even published a website to gather some useful suggestions as to how to stop the terrible oil spill in the gulf of Mexico – it is clear that it is more and more important to make youngsters active protagonists in the protection of the water heritage, which represents their future.
Youngsters have realized some short stories and storyboards on the water subject: the use and exploitation, the pollution and safeguard of water, the limited availability and recycling possibilities of water, the great water civilizations, etc. In each episode a child, or a group of children, will discover a “problem” related to water. Young people, for example, have shown themselves to be very sensitive to the problem of sea and aquifer pollution caused by industries. The protagonists of this cartoon, along with the Pet Pals, will try to understand the causes of this problem and to propose a practicable solution to it. Despite the complexity of the issues dealt with, in every episode an attempt will be made to make young viewers aware that finding a solution is possible, also thanks to their help. Their help may take shape by throwing light on the problem, by having a correct behaviour (e.g. without wasting any water), by sensitizing their parents and adults to this problem, etc.
The project “H2Ooooh!”, which has lead to the realization of this TV series, was given a start with the active involvement of 6,000 students ages 6 to 16 from 280 Italian schools. Due to the impressive success of this initiative amongst Italian children, evident in the enthusiastic participation of so many schools and in the quality of the material sent by over 400 classes, it was decided to propose the project to other UNESCO member states in order to diffuse it an international level. The “Project Water H2Ooooh!” was in fact presented in Paris, during the 35th UNESCO General Conference, in order to promote scientific knowledge and learning among young people around the world.”
About the creators of H2Ooooh!
The series were created by the founders of Gruppo Alcuni Srl, Francesco Manfio and Sergio Manfio. Sergio Manfio is President and the Head of the creative department of Gruppo Alcuni Srl. Gruppo Alcuni Srl also launched Ciak Junior Project and Festival, an international TV project which is a bit similar to H2Oooh! as it invites 10 to 15-year old children to write short films, which are then created and produced by the TV networks of participating countries.
H2Ooooh! website and online resources
- http://www.h2ooooh.it, the iniative's website
- http://www.unesco.org/en/venice/natural-sciences/water/h2ooooh-water-project, UNESCO's web page on the project
- http://www.youtube.com/user/UNESCOVeniceOffice#p/u, UNESCO's YouTube channel, with 26 English episodes.