Culture & Community

Dancing All the Way to Her Doctorate

A Weizmann Institute of Science researcher is one of four winners in the international “Dance Your PhD” contest

• TAGS: Awards, Culture, Education

Dr. Roni Zohar’s video, “Movements as a Door for Learning Physics Concepts – Integrating Embodied Pedagogy in Teaching,” won the Social Science category of Science’s 2018/19 “Dance Your PhD” competition

REHOVOT, ISRAEL—February 18, 2019—Scientists are not generally required to display prowess in modern dance, but Dr. Roni Zohar of the Weizmann Institute of Science’s Department of Science Teaching recently showed her moves in an award-winning science/dance video. Her video placed first in the social sciences category of the “Dance Your PhD” contest held by the prestigious journal Science. The competition, now in its 11th year, selects its winners from entries in which PhD students and those who have received their doctorates describe their PhD subjects through dance. It comprises four categories – biology, physics, chemistry, and social sciences – and the winner are selected by a panel of judges that includes scientists and figures from the arts world. 

Zohar_Roni_headshot.jpg

Dr. Roni Zohar

Dr. Zohar did not just use dance to interpret her work: Dance is an integral part of her research. She investigates ways of using movement to teach high school students basic concepts in physics. In the video, dancers pose in the bubble-like space at the top of the Institute’s particle accelerator as Dr. Zohar weaves between them, waking them up; and 10th-grade students are filmed demonstrating such concepts as angular velocity and balance by walking in a line or leaning in various poses. Titled Movements as a Door for Learning Physics Concepts – Integrating Embodied Pedagogy in Teaching, the video describes Dr. Zohar’s PhD research, which she conducted under the guidance of Prof. Bat Sheva Eylon of the Department of Science Teaching and Prof. Dor Abrahamson of the University of California, Berkeley. Dr. Zohar will soon be undertaking postdoctoral research on the phenomenon of movement in learning, studying under the guidance of the Weizmann Institute’s Prof. Ehud Ahissar in the Department of Neurobiology and Prof. Atan Gross in the Department of Biological Regulation.

Dance has long been a part of Dr. Zohar’s life. She studied it at the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance at the same time she was attaining her undergraduate degree in physics from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Her MSc, which was in neurobiology, focused on motor control. Today, in addition to training science teachers through Israel’s Ministry of Education, Dr. Zohar teaches classes in movement and improvisation. And this year, for the first time, she is leading a course on “movement, science and learning” at the Weizmann Institute’s Feinberg Graduate School.

Dr. Zohar was assisted in creating her video by choreographer Rotem Lev and film director and editor Yael Leibovitz-Zand.

At the end of the video, one of the 10th-grade students explains that “When the learning material is not just on the board, it helps us to understand that these rules were not useless discoveries, but are a part of the world around us. Experiencing them reduces the fear of learning.”

Dr. Roni Zohar’s research and this project are supported by the Maurice and Ilse Katz Center for Science Teaching; the Trump Foundation; the Edmond de Rothschild Foundations; and the Sandy Wall Endowment Fund for Science Teaching.

Culture & Community

Dancing All the Way to Her Doctorate

A Weizmann Institute of Science researcher is one of four winners in the international “Dance Your PhD” contest

• TAGS: Awards, Culture, Education

Dr. Roni Zohar’s video, “Movements as a Door for Learning Physics Concepts – Integrating Embodied Pedagogy in Teaching,” won the Social Science category of Science’s 2018/19 “Dance Your PhD” competition

REHOVOT, ISRAEL—February 18, 2019—Scientists are not generally required to display prowess in modern dance, but Dr. Roni Zohar of the Weizmann Institute of Science’s Department of Science Teaching recently showed her moves in an award-winning science/dance video. Her video placed first in the social sciences category of the “Dance Your PhD” contest held by the prestigious journal Science. The competition, now in its 11th year, selects its winners from entries in which PhD students and those who have received their doctorates describe their PhD subjects through dance. It comprises four categories – biology, physics, chemistry, and social sciences – and the winner are selected by a panel of judges that includes scientists and figures from the arts world. 

Zohar_Roni_headshot.jpg

Dr. Roni Zohar

Dr. Zohar did not just use dance to interpret her work: Dance is an integral part of her research. She investigates ways of using movement to teach high school students basic concepts in physics. In the video, dancers pose in the bubble-like space at the top of the Institute’s particle accelerator as Dr. Zohar weaves between them, waking them up; and 10th-grade students are filmed demonstrating such concepts as angular velocity and balance by walking in a line or leaning in various poses. Titled Movements as a Door for Learning Physics Concepts – Integrating Embodied Pedagogy in Teaching, the video describes Dr. Zohar’s PhD research, which she conducted under the guidance of Prof. Bat Sheva Eylon of the Department of Science Teaching and Prof. Dor Abrahamson of the University of California, Berkeley. Dr. Zohar will soon be undertaking postdoctoral research on the phenomenon of movement in learning, studying under the guidance of the Weizmann Institute’s Prof. Ehud Ahissar in the Department of Neurobiology and Prof. Atan Gross in the Department of Biological Regulation.

Dance has long been a part of Dr. Zohar’s life. She studied it at the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance at the same time she was attaining her undergraduate degree in physics from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Her MSc, which was in neurobiology, focused on motor control. Today, in addition to training science teachers through Israel’s Ministry of Education, Dr. Zohar teaches classes in movement and improvisation. And this year, for the first time, she is leading a course on “movement, science and learning” at the Weizmann Institute’s Feinberg Graduate School.

Dr. Zohar was assisted in creating her video by choreographer Rotem Lev and film director and editor Yael Leibovitz-Zand.

At the end of the video, one of the 10th-grade students explains that “When the learning material is not just on the board, it helps us to understand that these rules were not useless discoveries, but are a part of the world around us. Experiencing them reduces the fear of learning.”

Dr. Roni Zohar’s research and this project are supported by the Maurice and Ilse Katz Center for Science Teaching; the Trump Foundation; the Edmond de Rothschild Foundations; and the Sandy Wall Endowment Fund for Science Teaching.