The students at Fremont Elementary School are learning about science through art.
Throughout January and February, the school is hosting The Science Theater, an education program that teaches children science lessons through preforming arts. For one 45-minute period each week for three sessions, kindergarten through fourth grade students learn about lessons such as energy, force and motion and magnets. Each lesson relates to a standard of teaching for that grade level, so the kids can apply what they learn in the theater sessions with their class time.
Dawn Hudson’s first-grade class gathered Thursday afternoon to learn about light energy from instructor and program director Diane Handzel. Handzel would go through different skits with the kids to teach them about different kinds of energy that can be found and whether it’s man-made or natural. Students went through several skits, such as sun energy melting a snowman and a group of doctors using light to find the real Darth Vader’s light sabor.
The kids enjoyed acting and watching their peers perform, as laughter and cries of “this is fun” could be heard throughout the session.
“It’s pretty cool, the acting is my favorite,” Nicholas Smith, 6, said.
Smith said he was learning a lot with the Science Theater sessions. This was the second week of Science Theater for Ms. Hudson’s class and the kids couldn’t stop talking about going to the session, Hudson’s substitute said.
The elementary school hosted the program last year, but only three sessions, but Fremont Principal Casey Gilles said the school received so much positive feedback from students and teachers it decided to try to bring it back this year. Funding for the program came partially from a federal grant, but Gilles said spending the money on the program was worth it because it’s beneficial for both teachers and students to be able to learn science in a different way.
“We felt like it was a good use of money for professional development and student education,” Gilles said. “You just don’t get to do enough arts and theater in class anymore so it is enriching and I think it will help spark children to learn in a different way and also get interested in the arts. It is a win-win for everyone.”
Gilles said this is important because the district has put so much emphasis on math and science recently, and this allows teachers to place emphasis on science and the arts simultaneously.
“We thought it would get students excited and teachers too,” Gilles said. “I have already had teachers tell me that they have been coming up with new activities to teach their lessons to students. This is allowing us to go from focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) to STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, math).”