Science treads the boards

Eratosthenes' ShadowOne presenter traveled across 7,000 miles and 2,250 years to be at the ASTC Annual Conference. The November 1 session “Lights Up on Science: Rich Learning Experiences Through Live Theater” began with a performance of Eratosthenes’ Shadow, an original play created at Explora in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in which an actor portraying Eratosthenes, the chief librarian in Alexandria, Egypt, told how he measured the circumference of the earth around 240 B.C.E. Session participants then got to work measuring the earth’s circumference for themselves.

“Theater can provide science-rich learning experiences that immerse learners in a different and thoughtful place,” said Kristin Leigh of Explora. “It can cause learners to question things they thought they knew about the world and give opportunities to engage in dialogue about scientific issues.”

Following the performance, session presenters discussed various kinds of science and museum theater, including full-length productions, original short pieces, interactive courtroom dramas, theater programs for students, and the use of theatrical techniques for interpretation on the museum floor. Leigh spoke about the role of theater in Explora’s education program. Tessa Bridal of the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, Indiana, analyzed theatrical techniques as interpretation strategies. Finally, Brian Schwartz of the Graduate Center of the City University of New York explained how museums can collaborate with universities to create science theater. The session ended with a roundtable discussion.

About the image: Eratosthenes’ Shadow performed during “Lights Up on Science” session. Photo by Christine Ruffo