Wednesday, 10 December 2014
A Worcester lecturer has devised a novel way to engage young people in computer science – through the use of ballet.
Dr Paul Golz, from the University of Worcester, has brought the two seemingly mismatched subjects together as part of his on-going research to understand the role that the Arts can play in teaching computer science.
In collaboration with computer science educator, ReadySaltedCode, Dr Golz worked with pupils at Battle Abbey High School in East Sussex to devise a performance, which was subsequently staged at the Brighton Dome as part of the Brighton Digital Festival.
The project, entitled “The Art of Computer Science”, was jointly funded by Google’s RISE award for Computer Science Education and the Arts Council, to help increase awareness of the new national curriculum for computer science launched this year through England and Wales.
“The project aims to increase understanding and reduce people’s fear of computer science and help them to better use and understand technology,” said Dr Golz. “The choreography reinterprets computer science theory into dance form.”
Dr Golz, an experienced choreographer and dancer, as well as a Senior Lecturer in Computing at the University of Worcester, worked with students aged between 13 and 19 to create a ballet entirely focused around the five key concepts in computer science. The show integrated wearable technology, data visualisations and live motion capture to create a dynamic and dramatic performance.
The show was originally performed at Victoria and Albert Museum in London as part of their Digital Design Weekend and then went on to sell-out at the well-known Brighton Dome for the Brighton Digital Festival. It has since been performed at the Amex Stadium as part of a celebration of women and technology and plans to tour the UK.
“In addition to being a hugely successful event for both the students involved and the audience, the work has helped inform our understanding of how the arts can be used to aid learning,” said Dr Golz. “We found that 20% of the audience reported a better understanding of computer science concepts after viewing the performance. This may be related to the mental image held about these abstract concepts with 40% of the audience reporting that they had incorporated images/experiences from the show into their own understanding of each topic.”