From the Science Lab to the Stage: Unique NHCC program
Science and theater, the two are just as opposite as protons and electrons. However both are willing to work together in the name of education.
“It’s really important that the public understands what we do in the laboratory,” says Andy Arsham, a Biology Professor who teaches at North Hennepin Community College. “It’s important for us to be sharing our work.”
The science students worked with theater students to communicate their findings. The theater students helped them do so by turning their findings in to a play.
“It wasn’t really a performance, but more of us presenting our work,” says Kathy Hendrickson, a theater professor at North Hennepin Community College.
Class Focuses on Collaboration
The class is the first of its kind at North Hennepin Community College. This course is called Performance-Enhanced Biology. NHCC’s Kathy Hendrickson and BSU’s Andy Arsham collaborated to create the class. The funding came from Minnesota State’s Educational Innovations “Shark Tank” program. A goal of the course is to improve the ability of biology students to communicate complex concepts to non-scientists. Another goal is to improve non-Biology students’ understanding of molecular evolution. Also, there is a combined goal for students in both classes to understand the importance of working with others.
“Theater students stay in the theater; biologist stay in the lab,” added Kathy. “Taking both of them and working together and creating something together I think is something students can use is their everyday life.”
With the help of theater students, biology majors learned ways to better communicate their work.
“In science when we are done with our work we, have to present our finding,” says Justin Gordon a senior biology major. “There’s a lot of small techniques that we learned in here like projecting your voice. We also learned exercises to help you relax before you are about to go speak in front of the audience.”
Theater students say they learned ways to better seek out important information.
Both Majors Learn From Each Other
“They would talk us through their process,” says Sophie Frigerio a theater student at NHCC. “I had to learn how to ask questions so that I knew exactly what their process was. I need to be well informed so I really knew how to communicate their findings.”
The science behind the play presents the findings of the students’ research on fruit flies. The theater majors chose to present those findings from the perspective of the fruit fly.
“We chose to make it like a high school bully situation,” added Sophie “It did end up working out for the one that kind of got picked on in the end, which is what we wanted.”
The combination might seem a little strange. However, the hope is that students can get out of their comfort zones and learn to work with anyone no matter how different they may be.