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A collaboration between dance and physics

April 4, 2013

My school has the most amazing dance teacher. Dance is a relatively new program at the school, but I’m constantly amazed by the incredible work his students are doing and all ways he’s added to our our school community—he’s one of the driving forces behind the manliness curriculum and man talks we have regularly on the freshman boys dorms. He’s also one of the most positive and upbeat people I know. That he can do all of this as a first time dad of a 3 month year old simply astounds me.

Today, Avi approached me with this incredible idea he and his students are developing for arts weekend—a “day in the life of the school,” and in one of the scenes, a student gets really upset upon receiving a 96 on a science test. The student then begins to dance around the room, playing with science, and not focusing on grades, and then the student suddenly sees the real joy in learning. Avi wanted me to give him some ideas for some visually impressive demos that would help communicate the ideas of playing with science and be visible to an auditorium that seats 400.

So here are a few of the ideas we came up with:

  • Dancing around with a large hydrogen balloon and then blowing it up
  • Making a rainbow on an overhead projector
  • Using a CO2 fire extinguisher to propel a human riding on a large cart across the stage
  • Dropping a tennis ball on top of a basketball and launching it into the audience.
  • Using a vortex cannon to shoot smoke rings out into the audience
  • Using the swinging tray to swing a wine glass filled with colored water in a vertical circle
  • Launching styrofoam peanuts into the air with a Van de Graaf generator
  • Making giant soap bubbles
  • Floating objects using the Funflystick mini VDG.

Most of these are the classic cannon of physics demo days I’ve seen in the past, so I’d love to know if you’ve got any fresher ideas for other impressive demos that might work well in a dance performance like this.

This really has me excited and I want to see if I can find some students to create a special program insert to explain the demos that Avi chooses to feature in the performance.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 7, 2013 8:46 pm

    I am a EDM 310 student at the University of South Alabama.What fun ideas you and the dance teacher had. My favorite is making giant soap bubbles, especially if you could make them go in the audience. Getting the audience involved just makes the learning experience that much more fun! Can not wait to hear about what y’all do!

  2. April 9, 2013 9:45 pm

    Mr. Burk,

    Hi! My name is Brittney and I am an EDM310 student at the University of South Alabama, studying elementary education. I would just like to say I really enjoyed reading your post about incorporating dance and physics. Your ideas with Mr. Avi were incredible and if I were a dance teacher in a high school or a physics teacher, I would definitely use some of these ideas with my students. Thank you for posting!

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