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Science comes to life in "Weather Dances" at Woodland

Dance instructor Tom Evert leads kindergarten students in a dance that demonstrates the earth-s rotation on its axis and its revolution around the sun.

   If you’re wondering if science can be taught through dance, just ask any of the standing-room-only crowd of parents and grandparents who packed the Woodland Elementary School gymnasium Friday afternoon.

   “Weather Dances” culminated a month of instruction by teaching artist Tom Evert, an internationally acclaimed dancer, choreographer and founder of the Cleveland-based dance company DancEvert.

   Principal Kim Johnson explained earlier that dance is one element of arts integration in education – others are music, theater and the visual arts – that helps children learn in different ways. Evert’s visit was sponsored through Mansfield City Schools’ participation in the Kennedy Center’s Partners in Education program.

   Working in collaboration with Woodland teachers, Evert integrated the art of dance into science instruction. The result was demonstrated Friday by children in kindergarten through third grade.

   “I met with each class four times,” Evert said before the program started. “The kids really responded. I believe they learned and enjoyed the dance experience.”

   “Weather Dances” opened with Mrs. Uhde’s kindergarten class dancing to “Well Tempered Javier #12” by Johan Sebastian Bach. As described in the printed program, “In our solar system the earth’s rotation on its axis creates night and day. Its revolution around the sun takes a year. It is tilting toward and away from the sun on its axis and creates the seasons. The moon revolves around the earth.”

   At Evert’s direction, four children symbolizing the sun danced in the center as the remaining students, symbolizing the revolution of earth, danced in a circle. Other movements demonstrated the earth tilting with the seasons and the moon circling the earth.

   Here is the remainder of “Weather Dances,” as described in the program:

   -- Ms. Paetsch’s kindergarten class is dancing to “Masters of Percussion” by Glen Valez. Water in the air takes many forms, from the quiet setting of dew and fog to drizzling rain and heavy storms.

   -- Mrs. Schonauer’s kindergarten class is dancing to “Summer” from Antonio Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons.” The focus is on wind measurement. We use many devices to measure the speed and direction of the wind, such as weather vanes and wind socks. The dancers will use various banners and scarves to animate the wind.

   -- Mrs. Jarvis’s first-grade class is dancing to “Winter Time” by David and Anne Ellsworth. Winter snow and rain invite playful outings and observations of the ever changing freezing and melting states of water in a winter wonderland.

   -- Ms. Porter’s first-grade class is dancing to “Circle Song” by Bobby McFerrin. The weather makes many changes every day. We live in a world of delicate mist, fog, fresh rain and freezing snow.

   -- Mrs. Williams and Mrs. Danison’s first-grade class is dancing to “Ancestor’s Voice” by Baka Beyond. Water gathers in streams and collects in wetlands, ponds and lakes. It provides homes for insects and animals. The flow of the water continues to the great oceans.

   -- Mrs. Colvin’s second-grade room is dancing to “Speed and Velocity” by They Might Be Giants. We measure the speed and direction of the wind to study the weather. We prepare for an airplane ride by checking the wind conditions for a safe flight.

   -- Mrs. Queen’s second-grade room is dancing to “Add on Machine” by Eric Chappelle. The water cycle is important to our study of the weather. Water becomes a gas as it evaporates from the earth and collects in the clouds (condensation), then falls to the earth as rain and snow. Water also causes erosion or the wearing down of land as it washes over the earth. Freezing water expands and has the power to break things apart.

   -- Mrs. Munday’s second-grade room is dancing to the music of Bill Duncan. Wind is created when large fronts of hot and cold air meet. Severe situations bring on powerful and scary storms like hurricanes and tornados.

   -- Mrs. Jolin’s third-grade room is dancing to “Solid, Liquid, Gas” by They Might Be Giants, representing the states of matter. Is it going to rain or snow today? This is an important question in starting our day. Mixed with temperature and wind, water takes many forms. Snow is a solid, rain is a liquid and steam is a gas.

   -- Ms. Templeton’s third-grade class is dancing to “Electric Car” by They Might Be Giants.” They have been learning about renewable energy. Our planet earth has a limited supply of fossil fuels like oil and coal and they pollute the air. Renewable energies like solar and wind are ongoing and do not create pollution to make electricity. “Come and take a ride in my electric car.”

   -- Mrs. Luedy’s third-grade room is dancing to “Ein Welner Waltzer” by Adiemus. They have been learning about recycling. We can help keep our planet clean and healthy by making something new out of throwaway materials like plastic, glass and paper. There are many things that we throw away that we can recycle. We are making too much garbage. Please recycle.

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