Education does not come just from textbooks anymore. Schools in Philadelphia are taking a different route and are taking students outside of the classroom in order to get the most out of their education.
Philadelphia Education Fund brought Forces In Motion to Baldi Middle School in Pine Valley last week. The performance included three dancers who put on a performance focusing on Newton’s three laws of motion, along with a video complementing the lessons taught through song and dance.
Students were selected by their teachers to be volunteers for different activities. One activity included using a slingshot to throw a ball at a target, triggering applesauce to spill down on a well-liked science teacher. This was showing the example of the third law that every action has an equal and opposite reaction.
“I liked this activity more than just learning from textbooks,” said eighth-grade volunteer Amaris Moody-Daniels. “Being because it was more hands on and once you are into it you really don’t think of it as, ‘oh this is the laws of motion,’ you just think of it as fun.”
PEF is an organization that works to improve the quality of education to students. The goal is to prep young students to graduate and be prepared for college.
“Kids are learning physics through art and performance,” CEO Darren Spielman said. “So we are doing our job.”
FMA is targeted to help the students gather a better understanding of science. But the PEF is designed to help with all other discipline subjects. They strive to provide sources and support for teachers to be able to provide the best education they can.
There is a strict reason why Spielman picked Baldi to host the event.
“Middle school matters,” Spielman said. “We make sure we are paying attention to young people at a very critical time and giving them the support and education that they need.”
The same goes for the high schools within the city.
“The future of our city, our region and our nation relies on equality public education,” Spielman said. “We are not going to have democracy, simple society and functioning economy unless we invest in public education.”
With hands-on activities, students are able to apply what they are learning how these things are relevant in the real world and their everyday lives.
PEF has also created the ArtsRising initiative, which aims to educate students in math and science through creative channels like music and dance. Schools in Northeast, West and North Philadelphia currently participate this program.
Ambrose Liu is a coordinator for the ArtsRising program.
“It’s my job finding groups like FMA Live by Honeywell and NASA to bring that into the schools, because they use the arts to get kids excited about other subject matters. In this case, ‘STEM’ – science, technology, education and math,” Liu explained.
Programs through ArtsRising are not always aiming to educate students about math and science. Assemblies set up in the past have brought in performances focusing strictly on arts. From hip-hop dance performances to Walnut Street Theatre productions, these assembles aim to encourage students to become involved with different art programs.
“Part of the reason ArtsRising was created was to be a connector, a ‘go-between’, someone to be the bridge and to bring those opportunities to the children of Philadelphia,” Liu said. “And they certainly benefit from that.”
Lili Zheng and Shannon Dougherty are students reporting for Philadelphia Neighborhoods, the publication of Temple University’s Multimedia Urban Reporting Lab.