Science through Drama

One of the major challenges for a scientist is the popularization and communication of research results to audiences that are not necessarily familiar with the theories, methods, and terminology s/he uses. Probably the main question a scientist must answer is why her/his research is important to our society? The challenge becomes even more important (…and difficult) when the ‘why’ question comes from the mouth of children.

On Friday, June 7th I had the great pleasure to address the above challenge by organizing the ‘Science through drama’ workshop at the beautiful Chabot Elementary, Oakland-CA in the framework of my Marie Curie project’s outreach activities. The workshop aimed to highlight the value and charm of research to Elementary School children (Kindergarten and 3rd Graders) through drama techniques and games. ‘Science through Drama’ was designed to show the children what scientific research means, (especially in the field of sustainable cities and transportation), what requires and why it is important to our society. The activity for the 3rd Graders was structured around three main questions, with answers being approached through an experiential interactive way including lectures, games and drama techniques:

1. What is scientific research and why we need it? 
Introduction to the world of scientific research, highlighting the value of childish curiosity and how this can be translated into funny or groundbreaking research questions.
2. How can we apply scientific method step-by-step? 
Demonstration of the basic steps of scientific method by means of an experiential and collaborative game (Sweet Science).
3. Going deeper into a contemporary research field: Why research about cities & transportation is important?
Discussion, playing and learning about an important field of contemporary research, which is directly related with children’s everyday life: cities and transportation. This part was developed in four subsequent, interrelated activities using drama techniques (Everyone who…, Pantomime, Role on the wall, Form a question…and be the next researcher)   

The K-class workshop was organized around a painting activity. The children were asked to imagine and collectively draw a new joyful and colorful model for the Rockridge BART station in Oakland, CA.

The 'Science through Drama' activity was indeed a beautiful and valuable experience, which would not have been possible without the help of my partner Georgia Savva, Drama Teacher and Dr. Deborah McKoy, Executive Director and founder of the UC Berkeley Center for Cities and Schools at the Institute of Urban & Regional Development. I hope I achieved the main goal set at the beginning of the project: to highlight the value and charm of research to Elementary School children. On my part, not only I enjoyed a day full of colors, laughs, discussions with children, but also confirmed in practice how important 'chilidish curiosity' is for truly ground-breaking ideas to come up. I also received some very fresh thoughts for the redevelopment of Transit Stations (main colors pink or green instead of grey and brown, ground level trampolines, pools of chocolate, playgrounds, and many more...!).

Looking forward to performing ‘Science through Drama’ in the Netherlands during the second year of my project…!

Some highlights from the 'Science through Drama' workshops at Chabot Elementary. Up: K-class drawing the new model for the Rockridge BART station, Middle-left: with all K-class and Deborah McKoy, Middle-right: a little sticker all children received at the end of the activities, Bottom-left: with 3rd-graders holding Skittles bags from the 2nd part of our workshop (Sweet Science), Bottom-right: man-figure with stickers describing situations (e.g. heavy traffic, parks in the city, walking & cycling) that children like or do not like (in and outside the man-figure respectively).  

The cover page of the "Science through Drama" workshop manual.

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