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The Drama of Science

Last changed: 05/14/2020 5:17pm
6 , 7 , 8
Theater Science English
Grade Level Program Integration
5 60 min

Five, 60-90 minute sessions with a final Sharing day during Session 5
Sessions typically held once or twice a week to best integrate with selected Science unit
Schedule determined during the pre-planning meeting and based on the needs of the school
In-School Short Term Residency
ACTive Learning residencies integrate theatre into any curricular unit and are structured to provide a 5 session sequence of opportunities for students to: 1) participate comfortably in theatre in the classroom; (2) delve deeply into a specific topic through specially designed drama activities; (3) collaborate creatively on a unique demonstration of their discoveries (4) share and reflect honestly on their work; and (5) give/receive feedback to solidify learning in Theatre and the Curriculum.
All Year In-School, Virtual
$10 0
yes In-Person

Props, handouts, prompts or reference materials based on selected unit or topic

Chart paper or white board
Agreed upon materials or copies
Copy of selected Science unit or chapter and related text for the planning meeting

Open space in classroom or multi-purpose space large enough for entire class to participate on their feet simultaneously or spread out to work in small groups
Access to tables/desks/chairs for writing or drawing activities
A large space or auditorium reserved for Session 4 and Session 5, if sharing with the whole grade level


I can use size and shape (real/abstract) to demonstrate an element, structure or organism from a particular scientific topic working individually, with a partner and in a small or large group.

I can use movement qualities (rate, weight, energy) to demonstrate forces, processes, stages of a cycle, sequences or procedures from a particular scientific topic working individually, with a partner and in a small or large group.

I can propose theories and explanations verbally and in writing and can combine shapes and movement working with peers to test and demonstrate them for observation and response from others.



BEING is Seeing. DOING is Knowing.

In the Drama of Science residency, students physically participate in challenging scientific concepts through improvisation and movement exercises that make the abstract, concrete.

Students work in small groups to analyze and creatively translate difficult ideas into physical shapes and movement and become the living model of intangible or unobservable structures, elements, forces or organisms. Students practice close reading of text, examine photos and diagrams and view videos to inform their living model. Using critical thinking, creativity, and teamwork students compile ideas, test theories and revise their interpretation of a scientific process or system.

For example, participants go beyond memorizing Newton’s Laws of Motion using movement to explore and act out concepts of Force, Mass, Acceleration, Inertia and Action/Reaction. Once understood, students create scenes from everyday life that demonstrate each law. *See additional notes for other curriculum connections.

Each session incorporates warm-ups focusing on personal space and students working “alone together” which nurtures self-regulation skills and allows equal participation. Students experience a balance of ease and challenge, choice and structure, movement and table work, individual exploration and group collaboration throughout the creative process.

The residency culminates with each class sharing its living model or original scenes. Audience members observe and reflect on the informal presentations. Follow-up response and discussion in the classroom solidifies and continues the learning.

The student-centered process allows ample time for exploration and flexibility for adapting the schedule or activities as needed. Teacher/Teaching Artist collaboration assures alignment of Drama techniques with curricular information.

*Students say they “understood by acting it out and talking about it, were “not scared or shy showing the whole grade” and “had fun while learning and being social.”
*Teachers note "100% participation, appropriate academic/artistic risk-taking and improved quiz scores."


Teachers may choose any unit from the Science Curriculum. Sample connections include:

Food Web in an Ecosystem
Acting out producers, consumers and decomposers and tracking the transfer of energy and matter between each group

Systems of the Body
Showing how the organs in systems of the body interact (ex. blood moving through the circulatory system, air flow during respiration, or reproduction and growth of cells)

Matter and Chemistry
Demonstrating changing states of matter and chemical/physical reactions and testing theories based on real world occurrences (ex. a tanker imploding)

The Hydrological Cycle
Becoming water molecules to compare evaporation, condensation and precipitation (ex. an entire class transforming into a solid molecular structure of ice)

Reproduction and Bees
Illustrating pollination and creating scenes that explain possible causes/effects of the decline in the bee population

*All ACTive Learning Through Drama programs have been developed and implemented by a professional Theatre Educator in collaboration with Classroom Teachers and Arts Specialists

1-3 are welcome to assist in the classroom, if the teacher desires.
Parents, guardians and administrators could watch the informal Share in Session 5.

Grade 6

Grade 6: Earth’s Systems: MS-ESS2-4. Develop a model to describe the cycling of water through Earth’s systems driven by energy from the sun and the force of gravity
Grade 6: Reading Standards for Literacy in Science and Technical Subjects: Craft and Structure # 4: Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in specific scientific or technical context relevant to Grade 6 texts and topics.
Grade 6: Theatre: Creating: Anchor Standard 2.1: Organize and develop artistic ideas and work. b. Contribute ideas and accept and incorporate the ideas of others in preparing or devising drama/theatre work.
Grade 6: Theatre: Performing: Anchor Standard 5.1: Develop and refine artistic techniques and work for presentation. a. Recognize how acting exercises and techniques can be applied to a drama/theatre work.

Grade 7

Grade 7: Forces and Interactions: MS-PS2-1. Apply Newton’s Third Law to design a solution to a problem involving the motion of two colliding objects.
Grade 7: Reading Standards for Literacy in Science and Technical Subjects: Craft and Structure # 4: Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in specific scientific or technical context relevant to Grade 7 texts and topics.
Grade 7 Theatre: Creating: Anchor Standard 2.1: Organize and develop artistic ideas and work. a. Examine and justify original ideas and artistic choices in a drama/theatre work based on critical analysis, background knowledge, and historical and cultural context. b. Demonstrate mutual respect for self and others and their roles in preparing or devising drama/theatre work.
Grade 7: Theatre: Performing: Anchor Standard 5.1: Develop and refine artistic techniques and work for presentation. a. Participate in a variety of acting exercises and techniques that can be applied in a rehearsal or drama/theatre performance.

Grade 8

Grade 8: Structure, Function, and Information Processing: MS-LS1-3. Use argument supported by evidence for how the body is a system of interacting subsystems composed of groups of cells.
Grade 8: Reading Standards for Literacy in Science and Technical Subjects: Craft and Structure # 4: Determine the meaning of symbols, key terms, and other domain-specific words and phrases as they are used in specific scientific or technical context relevant to Grade 8 texts and topics
Grade 8: Theatre: Creating: Anchor Standard 2.1: Organize and develop artistic ideas and work. a. Articulate and apply critical analysis, background knowledge, research, and historical and cultural context to the development of original ideas for a drama/theatre work. b. Share leadership and responsibilities to develop collaborative goals when preparing or devising drama/theatre work.
Grade 8: Theatre: Performing: Anchor Standard 5.1: Develop and refine artistic techniques and work for presentation. a. Use a variety of acting techniques to increase skills in a rehearsal or drama/theatre performance.
Get to Know Our Arts Provider:

ACTive Learning Through Drama with Barbara Washer