At Bonanza Educational, it’s all about the next step. In a given year, the Arizona-based facility serves between 12,500 and 15,000 students, offering enrichment and recreational classes to equip them for the next-generation American economy. This means focusing on the 3 C’s: Creativity, Communication and Collaboration.
Cofounders and brothers Jeremy and Brian Scott develop new Bonanza programs all the time for elementary age students. They use concepts like LEGO building, moviemaking, animation and even cupcake decorating to help kids learn while having tons of fun. Students get a kick out of using iStopMotion for many of the animation sessions, too!
Bonanza offers special summer camps for an extended look at some of the students’ favorite courses, including LEGOs, LEGOs and more LEGOs! These camps, 8 hours per day and 4 days in total, give kids a well-rounded tour through creative and technological challenges – Bonanza’s typical courses are hour-long weekly classes that explore just one idea at a time, while camps explore almost everything. During the camp’s 75-minute daily focus sessions is where students can hunker down and “play hard” with ideas they may be unfamiliar with, like iStopMotion.
“Today’s kids love characters,” says Jeremy. “We see projects inspired by characters move commonly than anything else. When we started five years ago, Nintendo’s Super Mario and Friends and Rovio’s Angry Birds were being built in every class. Nowadays, Mojang’s Minecraft characters and Marvel or DC super heroes are a common starting point for the kids. Oh, and the Disney Princesses too! The girls love their princesses!”
Students at Bonanza’s summer camp usually begin with an exploration of storytelling, aided by example videos made by past years’ students. They often begin with technical skill building, or “learning to walk” before moving on to the development stage.
“A key part of the process is teaching them to control things that shouldn’t move,” Jeremy says. “Lots and lots of masking tape is used to prepare their movie sets. Once it’s time to film, the kids get super excited every time they see iStopMotion’s onion peel feature for the first time. It’s sometimes a challenge to get them to focus back on their work because they’re playing with their ghost hands!”
Although Jeremy and Brian have toyed with the idea of using non-LEGO media in their iStopMotion curriculum, LEGO is so familiar to the students, and so full of endless possibilities, that they are taking their time to introduce more. Besides, the students make great progress in their academic classes with Bonanza’s supplemental programs. The team loves watching that “ah ha!” moment, be it when multiplication finally clicks in a student’s brain or when a story in English class takes on a life of its own from a student’s new creative perspective.
“Technology makes hands-on, books-down learning possible,” Jeremy says. “It’s technologies like an iPad and iStopMotion that make this hands-on learning far more accessible than in the past. To be honest, I'm a little jealous I didn't get to grow up with them!”
The video above shows an iStopMotion animation made by students at a half-day camp in Gilbert, Arizona. They discussed tropes, or movie metaphors, in the beginning of the storytelling segment, and students were encouraged to think about things they commonly see in a movie and use those as hints to convey message and feeling. This video in particular is full of scary movie tropes, and the team at Bonanza just loves it!
Learn more about Bonanza and sign up for classes here!
The Bonanza Educational team from left to right: Mr. Josh, Lead Instructor, and Mr. Jeremy & Mr. Brian, Co-Founders (and brothers)