Animations in Science Education

Animation is the optical illusion of motion created by the consecutive display of images of static elements. In film and video production, this refers to techniques by which each frame of a film is produced individually. These frames may be generated by computers, or by photographing a drawn or painted image, or by repeatedly making small changes to a model unit (see claymation and stop motion), and then photographing the result with a special animation camera. When the frames are strung together and the resulting film is viewed, there is an illusion of continuous movement due to the phenomenon persistence of vision. Generating such a film tends to be very labour intensive and tedious, though the development of computer animation has greatly sped up the process. (Source: Wikipedia)
The use of Java, Flash, Claymation and other animation applications has allowed science educators to use animation as a tool to help students gain a greater conceptual understanding.

PMI on Animations in Science Education:
Plus: Adding movement, colour and sometimes sound to your lesson is always an improvement. Students enjoys most animations - seem to be motivating and research indicates that they generally improve conceptual understanding as long as they are not delivered as stand alone items.
Minus: Some animations seem to be simplified versions and therefore often carry potential misconceptions.
Interesting: Huge growth area in children's entertainment and education

Probably the most famous example of science animations is brainpop and brainpop junior. These very clear 3 to 5 minutes animations explain hundreds of scientific concepts.
Here is a sample -
About 30 for free - if you want the others you will need to subscribe to the official site - (I have been a member for since 2006 - it is money well spent for your school)

Brainpop's Ad on You Tube

Other Free Samples on Brainpop:

Science Animations:
Tips from Ian Torrie (NZ educator) - this is an excellent resource -
Science Interactives and Animations Collection -
IT Scotland -

Biology Animations:
Biol 1406 biology animations -
Cell Biology Animations - and the Virtual Cell Animation -
McGraw Hill Animations -
Biological Animations -

Chemistry Animations:
2D and 3D modelling in organic chemistry -
Collection of various chemistry animations -
Raymond Chang's Text animations -
General, Organic and Biochemical Animations -
Oklahoma University
Norton Resources - look for the tutorial links -
Physics Animations:
Flash Animations for Physics -
Applets and Shockwave Animations -
Flash Physics -

Earth Science Animations:
RESGI Animations -
Geology 101 -
Alphabetised Animations -
Geosciences Animation -