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New MOSI exhibit shows kids the science behind cartoons

Once you take a spin through MOSI's new Animation exhibit, it becomes clear: The wonders of computers now mean anyone can be an animator, even if you can't draw. You just have to be a storyteller. • Tampa's Museum of Science and Industry welcomed the exhibit, which runs through Sept. 7, as a fun way to use Cartoon Network characters to teach the math and science behind the visual effects of 24 frames per second to tell a story.

"As an educator, I want to show that using science and technology, you can express yourself and be creative," said Anthony Pelaez, MOSI's education director. "It's really neat that anybody can be an animator, but you do have stay with it and be patient."

I brought along two experts, ages 6 and 11, who gave it two thumbs up. But one thing that did become clear is that some parts could be a little challenging for preschoolers to get the whole scene without a lot of help. The MOSI educators say there will be plenty of helpers on hand, and life-sized Cartoon Network characters will be wandering the site.

The first and most popular stop in Animation was the live video and camera area that lets kids create a mini movie in "bullet time effect" (think of the famous bullet scene in The Matrix). There are other stops that should enthrall any age, from jaded teen to playful parents who get a kick out of making stop-motion animation, making sound effects by crunching paper and ringing bells, or doing their own voice-overs on scenes from Codename: Kids Next Door.

That voice-over stop was a tough one for someone who couldn't read the script fast enough to keep up with the snappy dialogue. But what a hoot it was for an older participant to do the voice of a villain and a falsetto-voiced girl and then see the scene play back with his acting on display.

Other exhibits teach the science behind perception and illusion.

You can see how to make a character say a word or phrase by placing lettered tiles on a camera. You can also see how music sets a mood by replaying the same scene of a cartoon camel and rider crossing the desert set to scary, sad or joyful music — a vivid lesson in how tunes affect 'toons.

. If you go

There's an added price to include Animation in your MOSI visit, bringing the cost to $23.95 for adults, $21.95 for seniors and $19.95 for kids. But for that added charge you get to tour all of MOSI (including the more toddler-friendly Kids in Charge), Animation and see the IMAX cartoon show, a collection of experimental shorts including the 1999 Oscar winner The Old Man and the Sea. 4801 E Fowler Ave. in Tampa. (813) 987-6000. Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Mon.-Fri., 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Sat.-Sun.

New MOSI exhibit shows kids the science behind cartoons 07/15/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 15, 2009 4:30am]
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