WILMETTE – Regina Dominican High School’s advanced dance class and Northwestern University’s department of physics and astronomy partnered this spring to create a video explaining a scientific concept through dance.
The project applied kinesthetic learning techniques to teach students complex scientific ideas about a common topic among dancers, synchronization. The students, in turn, created a dance expressing these ideas. The inspiration for this outreach project came from an annual contest sponsored by Science Magazine titled, “Dance Your PhD,” for which aspiring PhD candidates in scientific fields create dance videos to explain their theses.
Northwestern graduate student in physics Yuanzhao Zhang, with the help of his faculty advisor Adilson E. Motter, gave a presentation about counterintuitive, emergent behavior and how it applies to synchronization to the advance dance class at Regina Dominican.
In his presentation, Zhang posed and answered the question “Can heterogeneity lead to uniform movement while uniformity itself cannot?”
Regina Dominican teacher Alyssa Motter guided the dancers as they took what they learned from the presentation and created a dance for the camera using choreographic prompts also developed by Zhang.
This outreach project not only provided a rich learning experience for Regina dancers: Alessia Girardin, Teresa Kielian, Diane Kraemer, Anaisabel Lopez and Emily Schiavone, but also resulted in a video that can be used by Zhang and others as a resource to explain counterintuitive, emergent behavior in synchronized systems in a unique, engaging way.
Submitted by Regina Dominican High School