University Relations and Communications


July 14, 2017

 Ruby Martin participating in a summer camp


Ruby Martin, 14, from Libby, pictured here, was just one of the participants of the MSUB LEGO Robotics & Stop Motion GEAR UP Camp that took place in late June on the University Campus.

MSUB’s Northcutt-Steele Gallery to feature summer campers’ art during The Future Professional Artists' Show

Closing reception set for 4-7 p.m., July 28. Public invited to free event, refreshments served.



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MSU BILLINGS NEWS SERVICES — LEGO minifigures are meticulously placed on set, each one an important character to a story coming to life.


Then, the storyteller of the short stop motion film takes a picture and moves on to the next frame, moving each cast member and prop minutely and then snaps the camera again.


This was the scene during the Montana State University Billings LEGO Robotics & Stop Motion summer camp during the afternoons the last week of June.  This camp, funded by GEAR UP Montana, allowed junior high students the opportunity to live on campus and eat at the MSUB dining hall for a week while learning about coding and robotics through LEGO MineStorms and stop motion movie making with LEGOs and iMovie in the campus’ Mac lab.  Hands-on activities taught by the Billings Public Library in artificial intelligence, crazy dodge ball activities, navigating the ropes course, and climbing wall under the Outdoor Adventure Leadership and Intramural Departments as well as participating in scavenger hunts and a fierce ping-pong tournament rounded out the week-long overnight camp.


The stop motion portion of this camp was taught by Dr. Mara Pierce (MSUB Assistant Professor of Art), K-12 Educators Darla Pierce and Paige Williams with K-12 educator Katie Meier from the Career Center and high school student David Lockrem.


This story focuses on the stop motion movie making portion of the camp.  By the end of this weeklong camp, hundreds, perhaps thousands of pictures had been taken to create a few minutes of movie that will unfold on screen to tell poignant tales of drama or comedy.


About 10 middle school students participated in the camp, exclusively from rural areas outside of Billings, including Hardin, Wolf Point, and as far away as Libby and St. Ignatius.


From St. Ignatius, twelve-year-old Tre Heath decided to come because it merged his love of robots, stop motion films and being able to draft a storyline much like one of his favorite genres: anime.


“My story is of a child going through his own conscious. His good memories all turn bad and he has to go through some battles to figure it out,” Heath said.


Inspiration for his storyline came from life.


“It’s about personal life experience. When I was younger, I’d think I did something bad,” Heath said, placing one of his many characters back down on his green backdrop.


“But really, it was something good and I just felt bad. Something that I had to figure out.”


Ruby Martin, 14, from Libby, is enjoying her time in the camp.   


She is creating a short comedy based around a demon kid living in a world with no explanations.


“It’s a comical short,” Martin said. “The story ends up that he finds a friend to play in a soccer game and that kid ends up messing around with the other team.” That character creates some laughs along the way. Which side wins?