The ACME Arts and Animation Project connected over 30,000 students in middle school, high school and college in eleven counties to a mentoring network of peers, advanced students, instructors and professional artists from studios such as DreamWorks, Disney, Sony and Pixar. The project also provided professional development for 238 teachers.
The ACME Network (ACME) is an online educational and mentoring community that connects learners in arts, media, technology and academic classes (middle school through college) with creative professionals from the entertainment industry to foster leadership, innovation and 21st century creative skills. ACME uses traditional and computer-generated animation and illustration art training as a vehicle to engage students in learning and instilling 21st century critical thinking and innovation skills that are vital to any career field. Besides providing proficiency in art, animation improves communication and presentation expertise, as well as team work, collaboration, time management skills. A key aspect the methodology used by ACME is its “pay it forward” approach to mentoring. Students offered constructive feedback to their peers in order to earn access to professional mentors. This system established a pattern of mutual support and collaboration where the highest standards of performance and professional behavior were embedded in the experience itself – and rewarded.
ACME Online is a participatory (social network style) web portal where students post creative projects (art, animation) for review, critique and feedback by peers, teachers and professional mentors, mastering the language and practice of collaboration, communication, revision and presentation. ACME On-Air is a regular series of live video-conference telecasts between professional mentors and students in school classrooms. Professionals critique work and provide expert guidance, tips/tricks and creative solutions. Students must learn to communicate, defend their work, and accept constructive criticism.
Through these two program components, professionals were able to conveniently interact with students on an ongoing basis over the school year without leaving their studio or home environments. ACME amplifies the concept of one-on-one mentoring. A professional’s interactions with one student or several students are viewed by the entire ACME community, effectively scaling the reach and teaching impact of mentors.