The Body Electric

Why Did We Submit this Proposal?

One of the hot topics in elementary and middle school education focuses on getting kids interested in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (hence, the acronym STEM) and what is the best way to engage kids learning what are perceived as difficult subjects in school. Many schools are changing the acronym to include the Arts and changing the acronym to STEAM. In Prof. Phil Hampton’s role of serving as the Director of the Ventura County STEM network and founder of CSUCI’s annual Science Carnival, he has seen how a STEAM approach encourages kids to remain interested. He has actively been seeking ways of incorporating the arts in the Science Carnival including having kids experience a theremin, playing a piano made out of bananas, and engineering little robots (Art Bots) that draw pictures.

This year, the Science Carnival will include a PVC manifold similar to that used by the Blue Man Group. In collaboration with the CSUCI Performing Arts Department, he wants to bring Dance to the Science Carnival and have the dancers create music and rhythm through their movements. The Empathy piece will include a human-sized electrotheremin (Tannerin) that dancers use to play music with their feet and electronic sensors that allow body movements to translate into music or percussion. As originally conceived, the Body Electric would literally turn body movements into electrical signals that can be transformed into sound.

One of the inspirations for this work is an Old Spice commercial by Terry Crews:

Empathy and Hip Hop

Students from MiRi Park’s hip hop class at CSUCI will use elements of different hip hop dance disciplines to bring Prof. Hampton’s instrumentation to life. In her class, Park teaches the fundamentals of hip hop dance forms such as popping, locking, breakin’, rocking, house, vogue, waaacking and party dances. She suspects that popping in particular, the quick contract and release of muscles, along with house dance, with its quick footwork will accomplish the task, but the improvisatory structure of the piece will allow for the performers to draw from any and all of these forms.

Park believes that empathy requires all parties – participants and observers – to be completely present from moment to moment of the piece. In the age of social media, observers are relegated to merely watching a pre-recorded performance, but in this situation, the audience will have the opportunity to experience something as it’s being created. She hopes this will engender group mindfulness that we so desperately need, but don’t realize we are missing.

What is the Science Carnival?

The Science Carnival is an annual FREE event held the Saturday after Halloween that provides hands-on, minds-on science experiences for PK – 8 grade students and their parents with the goal of increasing students’ interest in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) and in pursuing a STEAM pathway in their future education. The Fall 2018 event is scheduled for 4 – 8 pm on Saturday, November 3, 2018. This will be the tenth year that CI has held the Science Carnival. The target audience for the event is PK – 8 grade students and their parents.  A particular focus of the event is on outreach to underserved students in our region. The event has a Halloween/ spooky science theme with over 110 hands-on science activities (see examples listed below) being run by over 350 volunteers from the community