Dancing Cosmology

Experience. Wonder. Research. Create.

A sample lesson plan based in life’s inherently interdisciplinary nature…

Dancing Cosmology

Students experience the fundamental forces of attraction and repulsion that run the universe through dancing the cosmological creations story as it is narrated. Starting with a group hug singularity and then feeling the discomfort of too closeness and breaking free in an explosion of movement and spaciousness. Once gaining space, each dancer/particle can start to sloooowwww down and cool off. As space becomes penetrable by light each dancer starts to notice other dancers around them, slowly spiraling toward them, sometimes caught by other gravitational fields, sometimes sling-shotted into the distance. As individuals spiral closer to one another and groups coalesce into rotating bodies, the heat and pressure builds again. If the group becomes big enough and tight enough, it’s heart ignites, shooting light out from it’s core warming smaller nearby groups rotating around the new star. We might add the dynamics of black holes, moons, asteroid, wormholes, whatever direction the dance takes us in.

I may freeze the action periodically by saying “0 degrees Kelvin” (zero molecular motion) and asking a dancer or two to express their feeling in one or two words, to anchor the experience emotionally and draw dancers attention to other’s experience. Then I may reignite the action by saying return to “background radiation,” the slow motion of 2.7 degrees Kelvin, the big bang remnant.

Students are then given time to process their experience alone through drawing, writing, or continuing to dance, being asked to come up with one question that the activity sparked that they would like to research. Then we rejoin as a group and discuss insights and questions. Students then research their question and report back via creative presentation, either individually or in groups as they prefer.

Physics: Students learn an embodied experience of temperature as a measure of molecular motion, and it’s effects on volume and pressure (the physical law PV=nrT).

Science and Religion: Learning this scientific creation story is also a great setup for learning a few other culture’s creation stories which we can compare and contrast, illustrating the relationship between science and religion and how their approaches and aims differ.

Astronomy: Students get a feel for the balance of gravity and the outward pressure of stellar nucleosynthesis, learning how the elements are made and that they and everything around them is made of the dust of an exploding star.

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