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“Energy Theater”: Using The Body Symbolically To Understand Energy Documents

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“Energy Theater”: Using The Body Symbolically To Understand Energy 

written by Rachel E. Scherr, Hunter G. Close, Sarah B. McKagan, and Eleanor W. Close

In what we call "embodied learning activities," instructors deliberately arrange for human bodies, or parts of the body, to stand in for entities in the description or explanation of a phenomenon. Embodied learning activities (ELAs) are intended to promote and externalize conceptual understanding in physics, for the benefit of the learner, the instructor, and the researcher. We describe an example of an embodied learning activity called "Energy Theater," in which each participant identifies as a unit of energy that has one and only one form. Objects in the scenario correspond to regions on the floor, and as energy moves and changes form in the scenario, participants move to different locations on the floor. This representation models energy as a substance-like quantity, a model that promotes concepts of conservation, storage, transfer, and flow. The activity becomes a richly featured disciplined symbolic workspace, supporting future studies for both description and analysis.

Published August 24, 2010
Last Modified November 8, 2010

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