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Title: Embodying STEM: Learning at the intersection of Dance & STEM
This symposium addresses dance as a site for STEM learning. We present papers from five research projects that each sought to engage youth in embodied STEM learning using dance, exploring the power of creative embodied experiences and the body’s potential as an expressive tool and resource for learning. We show how dance activities expanded access to STEM and supported sense-making; how dancer and dance-making practices were leveraged to support computational thinking, modeling, and inquiry; and how moving bodies in creative ways helped to generate new insights by allowing for new perspectives. Across our work, we seek to understand the multiple, rich learning opportunities that emerge from working across the arts and sciences, dance and STEM. Together our research shows that attending to opportunities for STEM engagement and learning through dance practices can broaden access to learning and engagement in STEM for all.
de Vries, E.
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International Conference of the Learning Sciences
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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  5. Abstract Background

    Computational approaches in STEM foster creative extrapolations of ideas that extend the bounds of human perception, processing, and sense-making. Inviting teachers to explore computational approaches in STEM presents opportunities to examine shifting relationships to inquiry that support transdisciplinary learning in their classrooms. Similarly, play has long been acknowledged as activity that supports learners in taking risks, exploring the boundaries and configurations of existing structures, and imagining new possibilities. Yet, play is often overlooked as a crucial element of STEM learning, particularly for adolescents and adults. In this paper, we explorecomputational playas an activity that supports teachers’ transdisciplinary STEM learning. We build from an expansive notion of computational activity that involves jointly co-constructing and co-exploring rule-based systems in conversation with materials, collaborators, and communities to work towards jointly defined goals. We situate computation within STEM-rich making as a playful context for engaging in authentic, creative inquiry. Our research asksWhat are the characteristics of play and computation within computational play? And, in what ways does computational play contribute to teachers’ transdisciplinary learning?


    Teachers from grades 3–12 participated in a professional learning program that centered playful explorations of materials and tools using computational approaches: making objects based on rules that produce emergentmore »behaviors and iterating on those rules to observe the effects on how the materials behaved. Using a case study and descriptions of the characteristics of computational play, our results show how familiarity of materials and the context of play encouraged teachers to engage in transdisciplinary inquiry, to ask questions about how materials behave, and to renegotiate their own relationships to disciplinary learning as they reflected on their work.


    We argue computational play is a space of wonderment where iterative conversations with materials create opportunities for learners to author forms of transdisciplinary learning. Our results show how teachers and students can learn together in computational play, and we conclude this work can contribute to ongoing efforts in the design of professional and transdisciplinary learning environments focused on the intersections of materiality, play, and computation.

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