Science & Education

, Volume 25, Issue 9–10, pp 1073–1088 | Cite as

Dramatizing the Authentic Research of a Local Scientist to Urban Elementary Students Through Professional Theater

  • Stephen R. BurginEmail author
  • Jenifer Alonzo
  • Victoria J. Hill


This article focuses on the impact of a professional play that we developed in order to introduce elementary learners of an urban school to the research of a scientist working at a local university. The play was written in a way that might increase student understandings of the nature of science, scientific inquiry, the identity of scientists, and the work that scientists do. We collected pre-and post-play questionnaire responses and drawings of scientists from third and fourth grade students who attended the play. We also interviewed five of the ten teachers whose students attended the play. Findings indicated that most of these teachers felt strongly that their students had learned about scientific inquiry, the identity of scientists, and the work that scientists do as a result of attending the play. However, less than half of the student questionnaires and drawings of scientists indicated such growth as a result of the play. That being said, numerous students were able to tell us what they learned from the play and many questionnaire responses and drawings indicated such learning. Implications for partnerships between schools and university faculty from various disciplines in order to develop potentially impactful plays that portray authentic scientific research are discussed.


Science Education Black Woman Colored Dissolve Organic Matter Elementary Student Grade Teacher 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This work was funded in part by a grant from the Community Leadership Partners of the Hampton Roads Community Foundation.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stephen R. Burgin
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jenifer Alonzo
    • 2
  • Victoria J. Hill
    • 3
  1. 1.Curriculum and InstructionUniversity of ArkansasFayettevilleUSA
  2. 2.Communication and Theatre ArtsOld Dominion UniversityNorfolkUSA
  3. 3.Ocean, Earth, and Atmospheric SciencesOld Dominion UniversityNorfolkUSA

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