Unique physics and dance event introduces grade-school students to FRIB

FRIB welcomed more than 1,000 attendees for a unique physics and dance event that included a performance and a variety of activities to explore dance and science on 3, 4, and 6 November. The performance and activities on 3 and 4 November were held for area schoolchildren, while the general public attended on 6 November. FRIB sponsored this event to attract non-science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) students to FRIB to reach populations that don’t normally identify with STEM.

 “Of Equal Place: Isotopes in Motion” incorporated dance, video, and physics to create an exhilarating and engaging performance. Following the performance at the Wharton Center, audience members toured FRIB and participated in several activities focused on dance and science.

This project was a mass collaboration between FRIB, the Wharton Center for Performing Arts at Michigan State University (MSU), Dance Exchange, Happendance, Women and Minorities in Physical Sciences (WaMPS) community members, and students from Everett High School and Dwight Rich School of the Arts.

Dance Exchange’s intergenerational company partnered with local youth and artists from Happendance Dance Studio in Lansing, Michigan. Dancers ranged from ages 10 to 70, and together they harnessed the power of creativity and inquiry through dance to connect, learn, and create. 

“Of Equal Place: Isotopes in Motion” delved into research being done at FRIB while exploring themes that resonate in both nuclear physics and dance: stability and instability, measurement, acceleration, fragmentation, and navigating mystery. The performance highlighted the contributions of youth, women, and people of color in science through a cast diverse in age, race, and cultural backgrounds.

Attendees participated in a number of activities following the performance, including:

  • A hands-on nuclear science workshop to build models of rare radioactive isotopes
  • A tour of the FRIB Laboratory to see the research vaults where rare isotopes are measured
  • A panel question-and-answer session about careers in nuclear science
  • A demonstration area with an array of scientific activities
  • An interactive exploration of the science and dance concepts from the performance
  • The Dance Exchange workshop

Dance Exchange, based in Maryland, is a nonprofit dance organization that creates groundbreaking dance works that expand who gets to dance, where dance happens, and why dance matters.

“Of Equal Place: Isotopes in Motion” was sponsored by MSU Federal Credit Union.

Of Equal Place: Isotopes in Motion

Michigan State University (MSU) operates the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB) as a user facility for the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science (DOE-SC), supporting the mission of the DOE-SC Office of Nuclear Physics. Hosting what is designed to be the most powerful heavy-ion accelerator, FRIB enables scientists to make discoveries about the properties of rare isotopes in order to better understand the physics of nuclei, nuclear astrophysics, fundamental interactions, and applications for society, including in medicine, homeland security, and industry.

The U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of today’s most pressing challenges. For more information, visit energy.gov/science.

The Wharton Center, Michigan’s largest performing arts venue, hosts nearly 1,000 events per year, ranging from Broadway shows, rock concerts, classical music, to student productions.