Exciting interest in physics and geophysics among young women of color through the medium of dance.

Lawrence J Pratt1, Folashade Cromwell Solomon2, Tracey Wright2, Singh Vandana3, Mariah Steele4 and Dionne Champion5, (1)Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Woods Hole, MA, United States, (2)TERC, United States, (3)Framingham State University, United States, (4)University of Rochester, United States, (5)University of Florida, College of the Arts, United States
The underrepresentation of racial/ethnic minority populations in STEM fields, including physics and geophysics, has been well documented, and the picture is more desperate for African American females. Against this backdrop is an increasing interest in the use of art/science and embodied learning to teach and engage students in science. We will describe a project designed to engage young women of color in geophysics by leveraging their skills as dancers. Our two-year study was centered on the design, execution and analysis of an eight-session learning lab attended by a group of African American teens who were recruited from two Boston-area dance centers. Dance, improvised movement and dance making were integral to explorations of basic physics, such as Newton’s Laws, and to environmentally relevant topics such as greenhouse warming. We will discuss the design, execution and analysis phases of the project and comment on those elements that were deemed successful, not only in exciting interest but also in developing the type of confidence that could lead a student to consider a career in the physical sciences.