Imagine a place with an unlimited number of LEGOs. How would your kids (or you!) react? Imagination Station brings this dream to life for fans of the small brick toy: they have created a free LEGO play center where you are only limited by your imagination. In addition, Imagination Station offers classes designed to help students express themselves creatively with LEGO while engaging with iStopMotion to produce their own short movies.
Imagination Station opened in January 2015 as a means of bringing fun and education to the children of Christchurch, New Zealand, after a catastrophic earthquake damaged much of the city’s central business district in 2011. After the earthquake, many buildings were left with visible damage, discouraging people from traveling into the city.
Fortunately, things are looking up for Christchurch. Imagination Station’s operational manager, Jaz Burke, says, “We are successfully having lots of people back to town now. Reactions from parents and kids are great, and they are so pleased to come back to town. Some of them say they came to town because of us!”
One of Imagination Station’s most popular programs is their stop motion animation class, which relies on iStopMotion. The class is held weekly on Sunday afternoons but is increased to three classes a day during school vacations because of how quickly the classes reach capacity.
For individual classes, students are given two hours to create a 20-30 second film. During this time, students are given a webcam, a LEGO base plate and plenty of LEGO pieces to craft a creative story, which usually shows LEGO figures doing stunts or even car chases. For classes that take place over the course of several sessions, storytelling becomes more detailed.
“Technology can offer huge assistance in the learning process, particularly when it is easy and intuitive to use,” Jaz says, explaining how technology fosters engagement among students in the classes. “It’s great when it is relatively unobtrusive too – our students are focused on creating something rather than simply playing on the computer. The program is so simple that there are no boundaries for the students and whatever they imagine they can try.”
If Imagination Station’s stop motion animation classes pique your interest, stay tuned! They plan to incorporate an all adults workshop into their program in the near future – we can’t wait to see how the adults use creativity and imagination to craft their stories.