PARALLEL LINES: Early Childhood Education, Science & the Arts

In the week following the STEM training at Wolftrap,  participating teaching artists were asked to reflect on the curriculum standards and the Next Generation Science framework and explore topics within Science/Engineering that best represent our art form and why.   
Several times throughout the training, it was stated that some educators are skeptical that young children can handle science and can "learn science"!  That to me and my peers, is shocking considering that science encompasses virtually everything in the observable world.   So it's an exciting challenge to prove that not only can children handle and "learn science" BUT can be introduced to and become comfortable with scientific concepts and principles THROUGH the arts experiences that we are charged to bring to them.

So in my reflection, I've taken 3 science curriculum standards and drawn parallels to my art form of music and dance.

1) "Explain that there must be a cause for changes in the motion of an object." 

This is a principle that  exists within music composition and structured dance choreography as well as improvisation in both mediums in that when one player or dancer leads the piece into a certain direction, the next player or dancer's work will at least start, to some degree, as a "response" to the previous player's or dancer's statement.  Depending on how free form the music or dance is intended to be, the whole presentation may be full of entirely or almost entirely unplanned sounds or movements that then set in motion an entire piece.  No matter how drastically different an artistic "response" may be, it still has been impacted/influenced by the statement that preceded it.

2) "Compare the different ways objects move." 

This is a natural fit for dance (imagine the often compared movement styles of Michael Jackson and Gene Kelly) but also for music the way different singers for example may sing the same song, with extreme differences running the gamut from the Bing Crosby style to the Billy Holiday style.  So the corresponding arts experience begins with observing differences, describing those differences, imitating the differences with the voice and the body, etc.

3) "Observe a variety of familiar animals and plants to discover patterns of similarity and difference among them."

This translates in a similar way as the above but with a focus on patterns which of course are what music compositions and improvisations, and choreographed or improvisational dances are made up of.

These are only three of MANY parallel lines that run through the subject of science and art forms like music and dance.  I will continue to blog about the arts experiences I create to help young learners embrace and own knowledge discovered through them.  

I, too, of course will also have the chance to embrace and finally own the lessons in science that I virtually ignored, so consumed and preoccupied was I with music and dance, to the exclusion of so many truly fascinating things.  Of course you couldn't tell me that back in Dr. Bray's science class at Duke Ellington High School of the Arts way back when!  But it's better late than never!


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