Israeli scientist's award winning video embodies both dancing and learning

"Physical experience is a unique resource that enables learning of complex concepts in physics," Dr. Roni Zohar explained in the video.

February 20, 2019 06:09
1 minute read.
Weizmann Institute

Dr. Roni Zohar of the Weizmann Institue's award winning video submission. (photo credit: YOUTUBE)


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Dr. Roni Zohar of the Weizmann Institute of Science's Department of Science Teaching shared her teaching and dancing prowess with the world in a recent award-winning dance video.

Zohar brought home Science Journal's "Dance Your Ph.D." award after showing off her moves in an informative educational dance video that she submitted to the publication for their annual contest. The award program allows students who have received their doctorates to describe their Ph.D. subjects through dance.

As a student, Zohar studied at the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance while simultaneously earning her undergraduate degree in physics from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She later went on to earn her master's degree in neurobiology.

For Zohar, dance is an integral part of her research, and by using embodied pedagogy she teaches high-school students basic physics concepts using dance movements as a cursor for her teachings.

After the initial lesson, students then summarize what they learned by creating and explaining a dance that re-enacts the learnt concept.

"Physical experience is a unique resource that enables learning of complex concepts in physics," Zohar explained in the video.

Students learn concepts through dances and movements taking place across the Weizmann Institute's campus, including lessons within the bubble of the school's very own particle accelerator. Through this process, the students learn physics concepts such as Newton's First and Third Law of Physics, friction, gravity, angular velocity, balance and more.

Throughout the video, Zohar explains her research and methodology, the main principle being, "experience first, signify later."

Zohar claims she found a significant improvement in student's understanding of the concept when using embodied pedagogy in her methods, and the learning concept created a deep influence within said learning.

"When the learning material is not just on the board it helps to understand that these rules were not useless discoveries but are part of the world around us. Experiencing them helps increase understanding and reduces the fear of learning," one of Zohar's 10th grade students wrote.

Zohar now leads a course on movement, science and learning at the Weizmann Institute's Feinberg Graduate School, while she continues her research to better both the science and educational worlds.

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