Theatre as a means to of supporting the teaching of science

“Light mystery” is  a play developed by three academics from the University of Milan as part of the European Union (EU) funded TEMI project, to allow them to pilot engaging ways to learn about their favourite field of research: physics.

Light Mystery Theatre Show

Have you ever tried talking about physics without revealing any of its wonders, hoping people will develop a passion for it and for science?

How do you engage with people to share your passion of physics?

How do you help make young people develop a love for physics studies?

In 2004, Marina Carpineti, Marco Giliberti and Nicola Ludwig, physicists but also work  colleagues with a common passion for acting and theatre, embarked on an unusual journey. They created a theatre play to extol the wonders of physics called “Let’s throw light on matter” which officially launched their “Physics show initiative”.

Since then, they have written seven plays, which they have performed 400 times, and have to date, end of 2015, reached an audience of 110,000 people. One of the reasons behind their success is their ability to engage with the audience through showmanship, bringing to life the wonders of physics phenomenon such as light or electromagnetic waves and their playful invite to the audience to get involved, and to question phenomenon, a process of engagement that leaves the audience wanting to know.

In 2013, Marina Carpineti and Marco Giliberti started their collaboration with the TEMI project, an EU-funded project, Teaching Enquiry with Mysteries Incorporated. TEMI developed a pilot teacher training course which combines the use of a range of scientific mysteries which were then dissected following the 5E teaching model (engage, explore, explain, extend and evaluate), the project also included the integration of showmanship or more generally presentation skills to keep the students engaged and finally a gradual release of responsibilities where students eventually lead both the questions and problem solving. The TEMI course was tested across Europe with more than 600 teachers taking part between 2013 and 2016 and reporting more success in engaging with young people on science topics.

Marina Carpineti, Marco Giliberti and Nicola Ludwig adapted the show Light Mystery and made it an integral part of their TEMI training courses delivered in Italy. In the script, they describe how the acts and scenes follow the TEMI methodology. They worked directly with teachers on the use of science theatre as a novel and attractive means to engage and bring out curiosity, scientific reasoning and literacy in young people.

You can download the commented script here.