Biology of the Vertebrates Video Project

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The objective of the video assignment is to produce a short video that tells a scientifically accurate and compelling story about some aspect of the biology or evolutionary history of a vertebrate species/group or that illuminates a major concept taught in this course. The target audience is people who don’t necessarily have any background in biology such as peers outside this course or family members.

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Video Evaluations

Each individual has been assigned five videos to watch and evaluate critically. Information about assigned videos and evaluation forms is now available on HuskyCT and evaluations are due no later than 5 pm, Tuesday, December 7th. These evaluations affect both your grade and the grade of the group being evaluated and will be shared with the producers of the videos you evaluate.

Step 1: Determine which videos have been assigned to you for evaluation.
This information is in the HuskyCT grade book (My Grades, under My Tools), under columns VR1-VR5. If you notice any problems (e.g., you’ve been assigned your own video or the same video twice), please email Prof. Jockusch to have these corrected.

Step 2: View the videos.
Videos are available for viewing on HuskyCT. To access the videos, click on the assignment tool, and then click on the Published tab. This will pull up a list of videos. Unfortunately, the videos are not numbered in this view. Clicking on a Video Projects link will pull up the list of submitted files and show you the video group number. Clicking on the video (.mov, .mp4, .m4v or other video file type) should either launch the video in HuskyCT or start a download. Some video files are quite large, so they may take a while to download if you are not using a fast internet connection. We have confirmed that all published videos play in QuickTime on both Windows and Mac computers. If you are unable to play an assigned video, we suggest that you try updating your version of QuickTime or seeking help from the Learning Commons.

Step 3: Evaluate the videos.
This is done using the Assessment function in HuskyCT. There are five Video Evaluation forms, one for each video you are evaluating; these are available through the main course page. It is IMPORTANT that the evaluation form number and grade book column for the video you are evaluating match. For example, if VR1 assigns you to video 5 and VR2 to video 10, then use Video Evaluation 1 to evaluate video #5 and Video Evaluation 2 to evaluate video #10.

Note: After you open an assessment for a video evaluation, you have one hour to complete it. If you take longer than an hour, you will NOT be able to submit your assessment. Therefore, DO NOT OPEN the assessment until you have viewed the video and are ready to evaluate it.

Deadlines and Grading

Sept 10: Groups assigned and posted on course website
Sept. 24: Deadline to submit topics for approval (5 pts)
Oct. 8: 1 page synopsis of project and initial source list due (10 pts)
*Deadline to petition to submit project in alternative format
Nov. 18: Final video due (65 pts)
*The final video will be evaluated based on the scientific accuracy of the script, effectiveness of the visuals, success in reaching the target audience, and technical execution.
Dec. 7, 5 pm: Evaluations of 5 videos from other groups due (10 pts)

Group Assignment: Individuals have been assigned randomly to groups of 3-4; groups assignments are available herePdficon small.gif. We encourage you to get in touch with your fellow group members immediately to start brainstorming about possible topics for the project. The standard UConn email addresses should work (except in a few cases; in those cases, I have contacted all group members to provide the correct email addresses).

BE SURE THAT YOU ARE RECEIVING YOUR UCONN.EDU EMAIL; This is the only way your group members know to contact you.

Topic Approval: Send an email to the TA (Beth Timpe) and copied to all group members. This email must include the names of all group members, a brief description of the topic your group proposes to research, and relative links to sources you have found in your preliminary literature search. This email must be sent no later than September 24th. We strongly encourage you to send this email as early as possible, in case your topic needs to be changed/refocused before approval can be given. Groups that do not receive approval will have 48 hours from the time they are notified or until the deadline (whichever is later) to submit a revised topic. Full credit will be given only to groups that receive approval for a topic submitted on or before September 24th.

Idea Resources:
Popular Science Media:
Science Daily
Science News
National Geographic Animal News
Discover Living World
Science Times (NY Times): Animals
BBC Science News

Primary Scientific Literature Databases:
Web of Science
Science Direct

UPDATED! (5 October 2010; 9:30 PM) Synopsis and Source List: Think of the 1 page synopsis as a plot summary of the story you will be telling in which you summarize the main points that you will make in your video. Sources may be listed in any format, so long as complete information is included. Any source that is scientifically accurate is acceptable. For some topics, you will want to use the primary or review literature. For other topics, popular articles or websites may provide adequate information.

*Any group that thinks their project would be more effectively presented in some form other than video may petition for permission to use an alternative format. This petition should include a brief description of the rationale for requesting an alternative format and a description of the final product the group proposes to produce.

All of these items must be submitted electronically in a single pdf document to Beth Timpe AND cc'ed to all group mates no later than 5 pm, Friday, October 8th. FILES MUST BE NAMED THIS WAY: Group#_Date sent.pdf (for example a file sent to me by Group 1 on the 8th of October would be named Group1_8Oct2010.pdf). Failure to name your file following this format will result in the deduction of points for this portion of the video assignment. NO CREDIT will be given for assignments received after this deadline. NO EXCEPTIONS! Regardless, all groups must receive feedback on their synopsis prior to submitting their video. Thus, even if your group does not meet the deadline, you are still required to complete the assignment.

UPDATED! (21 October 2010; 2:30 PM) Scheduling your meeting:
Each group needs to schedule a meeting with Dr. Jockusch, Dr. Rubega, or Beth between October 19th and October 29th, in order to review the script and discuss the graphical concept before you begin video production. Although we’d like every member of the group to attend this meeting, we realize that this may be impossible to coordinate. At least two group members MUST attend this meeting. Available times (in 30 minute blocks) can be seen here (UPDATED Available Video Meeting Times). A hardcopy of the schedule will be made available before and after class on Tuesday, where you will sign up for a time slot by filling in your group number in the time slot. Please decide on a few alternative time slots in the case that your preferred time slot is already filled. Please keep in mind the research interests of each professor and the TA. In other words, if your video topic pertains to birds and/or functional morphology, you may want to schedule a meeting with Dr. Rubega, as these are her areas of expertise. Likewise, if your topic deals with fishes, amphibians, or ‘reptiles’, meeting with Dr. Jockusch or Beth might be more appropriate.

Before the meeting:
Content Checklist
-Decide on a conceptual design. For example, how will you transform the information you researched for your topic into a video? What format will most effectively illustrate your story (e.g., video, animation, slideshow)?

-Before drafting a script, it can be helpful to think in terms of a storyboard. A storyboard includes a list of all of the scenes you will create and a brief description of what is going on in each.

-Prepare a draft of your script.

-Make a list of any props you will need during video production.

-If you are using visual material you are not producing yourself, indicate the copyright status of each item.

Technical Checklist
-Equipment you will use to film the video______________________

-Format this video camera records in:____________________

-If you’re checking out a camera from the library, list dates for which camera has been reserved: ____________________

-Software you will use to edit and format your video:_____________________

-Where do you have access to this software?_______________________

Final Project Submission:
UPDATED! (15 November 2010; 11 PM)

All groups must submit the following 3 items by 5 pm, November 18th on Huskyct:

Please note there is a test function in Huskyct to practice submitting a file as a means of making sure you do not have any technical difficulties when you submit your final video and script files. Utilizing this function is HIGHLY recommended, as your final project is due November 18, 2010 at 5:00 PM without exception!

1) Final video: The final video should be about 3 min. long. The video file MUST be named GroupNumberVideo (followed by the appropriate extension; for example if you are in Group 1, your video file name would read or Group1Video.m4v or Group1Video.mp4). The video MUST be in a format that will play in QuickTime so that it can be watched on either a Mac or Windows platform. Acceptable formats include m4v, mp4 and mov. WMV is NOT acceptable. The video should have a resolution of 640 x 480 pixels. If you are having trouble converting your video to the proper format, we recommend using the on-campus resource, Learning Commons. The video MUST be Creative Commons compliant (see Creative Commons), meaning that it must not contain material copyrighted by others, unless the material is used in accordance with the fair use exemption.

2) Script: Text of the script with citations and ALL sources referenced (with a Literature Cited page) in pdf format. Additionally you MUST provide information showing that you are not in violation of copyright infringement for any non-original materials (e.g., images, music) you used.The script file MUST be named GroupNumberScript.pdf (for example if you are in Group 1, your script file name would be Group1Script.pdf).

3) Summary of the major contributions of each group member: As science is done more frequently in collaborative groups, it is becoming standard to indicate the specific contributions of each individual to the overall project (e.g., topic idea, research, script writing and revision, key creative ideas, video production, video editing, all aspects of a particular section of the video, etc.). Include this information at the end of the script.

Additionally, EVERYONE (each individual group member) must submit the following by 5 pm, November 18th:

4) Group Member Evaluation: Confidential rating of the relative contributions of their group members using the Evaluation of Group Members function on Huskyct. You will be asked whether everyone contributed relatively equally. If not, you will be asked to specify which group members had above or below average contributions.

This information will be used to calculate the individual multiplier for each group member, which can range from 0.8-1.1 (except for cases in which an individual did not contribute). The final video grade assigned to an individual will be determined by multiplying the individual multiplier by the total points received by the group (of 80 possible group video points) and then adding the points for video evaluations.


Video Acquisition: The library has 4 cameras (2 FLIP, 2 Canon Powershot) with video shooting capabilities. These cameras can be checked out for 2 days at a time and specific days may be reserved in advance. For groups that anticipate using these cameras, we strongly encourage you to make reservations sufficiently far in advance to ensure availability.

Video Editing: iMovie, Movie Maker, Final Cut, YouTube Remixer, and Video Spin are examples of software that can be used to edit, mix, and enhance your videos. The Learning Commons (1st floor of library) has 4 iMacs equipped with iMovie. They can be reserved by calling 860.486.1187.

Examples of Possible Topics:
How is a basilisk lizard able to run across water?
Why do some fish change sex from male to female while others change sex from females to male?
How will global climate change affect turtles with temperature-dependent sex determination?
How do the venom delivery systems differ between venomous lizards (e.g., Gila monster, beaded lizards) and venomous snakes?
How do platypuses inject venom?
Why is the panda's "thumb" not considered a true thumb?
What are the adaptations of troglodytica (cave-dwelling) vertebrates?
What are the adaptions of fishes who live in the deep ocean?
What are some adaptations of desert-dwelling vertebrates?
How does a queen naked mole rat keep other female naked mole rats in the colony from giving birth?
What happened to the Passenger Pigeon, once one of North America's most abundant birds?
What is the function of the plates on a Stegosaurus' back?
Why do some (insert: fishes/amphibians/reptiles/birds/mammals) make better parents than others?
What are the consequences of exotic vertebrate introductions (e.g., lampreys, cane toads, bullfrogs, European starlings, nutria) on native animal populations?
What is a brood parasite?
How have transitional fossils (e.g., Pikaia, Tiktaalik, Archaeopteryx, Homo habilis, Homo erectus) provided a clearer picture about the evolution of vertebrate lineages?
Why have multiple lineages of vertebrates have lost their limbs?
Why can (some) garter snakes eat highly toxic newts?

Sample Videos:
The Music Video - The Fungi Song
The Cartoon - Comb Jelly Movement
The Parody- Animal Communication
The Slideshow - Invasive Lampreys - DELETED ON THE BASIS OF PLAGIARISM

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