FRIB hosts ‘The STEAM Plays’ to connect science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics

21 November 2023

Article from the MSU College of Arts & Letters

A new musical by MSU Department of Theatre Professor Rob Roznowski explores the relationship between the arts and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), focusing on how important creativity and artistic expression are to innovation in STEM fields.

The STEAM Plays: Using the Arts to Talk About STEM” makes the case for STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) over STEM education in fun and entertaining ways. This original musical comedy is the brainchild of Roznowski with music and lyrics by Seth Burk, an MSU graduate with degrees in music composition and music education.

The STEAM Plays has been performed, to much acclaim, at several local elementary schools during the fall 2023 semester. FRIB hosted several performances during the semester. After each performance at FRIB, FRIB researchers spoke to the students about the scientific research taking place at the laboratory.

FRIB Outreach Coordinator Zach Constan said the plays have been a great way to introduce FRIB and the work taking place in the laboratory to a new audience. He said he knows the play is a hit with the students—and that the students are fully engaged—because he hears them yelling, groaning, and cheering as they interact during the performances.

“We’re very pleased to host ‘The STEAM Plays’ because they help audiences explore STEM in a new way,” said Constan. “The students are astonished to hear that they’re sitting in a working laboratory, and that will be part of the story they tell when they get home.”

Two free public performances took place 2 December at FRIB. In addition, pre-show activities were held for children, in partnership with the MSU Science Theatre, prior to both 2 December performances.

Roznowski was part of the inaugural STEAMpower fellowship at MSU, which is designed for graduate students who are interested in linking the arts, humanities, and STEM. As a STEAMpower Fellow, Roznowski researched STEAM education, which aims to incorporate the arts — visual arts, language arts, physical arts, music, etc. — with a focus on sparking imagination and creativity in ways that naturally align with STEM learning.

“With most of the research I had done on STEAM education, the arts felt additive to STEM rather than integral,” Roznowski said. “I wondered how I could explore how the arts and STEM overlap rather than remain separate.”

“The STEAM Plays” cast and crew are made up of all Department of Theatre students, including two graduate and 11 undergraduate students.

Read the full article on the MSU College of Arts and Letters website.