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Science Alliance Plans Nov. 5 Event Especially for Children

If there is an entertaining way to get children interested in science - and specifically in climate change and water quality research - Jenifer Alonzo is determined to come up with it.

The Old Dominion University assistant professor of communication and theatre arts has joined forces with oceanographers, education faculty and others at the university to explore ways to make learning fun. Their Science Alliance Live!, with Alonzo serving as artistic director, presents its first public event on Saturday, Nov. 5.

Alonzo has written two plays aimed at young audiences, one about the climate change research in the Arctic region by Victoria Hill, ODU research assistant professor in the Department of Ocean, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences (OEAS), and the other about Chesapeake Bay water quality and public health research by Fred Dobbs, ODU professor of OEAS.

"Tuk in the Arctic" invites the audience to help Tuk, a Canadian Inuit working dog, protect a Hill's chocolate supply while the researcher is collecting data about sea ice. "Enzo Murray: Science Reporter" challenges the audience to help Enzo and Dobbs navigate confusing media messages while defeating hazardous bacteria found in seawater.

In addition to the interactive stage performances, which will involve puppets, the event will include live music, virtual visits to the Arctic, experiments with sea ice and a chance for children to participate in a documentary film about science education. Children also will be offered tasty snow cones.

Another treat for children will be a Web-based game based on the "Tuk in the Arctic" play. Amy Adcock, ODU associate professor of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education and professional studies, is developing the Science Alliance Live! Web games.

Children 5-12 are the target audience of the event, although Alonzo said it should be of interest to people of all ages.

The Nov. 5 event will be from 10 a.m. until noon in the University Theatre on Hampton Boulevard, between 46th and 47th streets. It is free, but, because seating is limited, tickets must be reserved by calling 683-3391 or emailing odusciencetheatre@gmail.com. Parking is available in Garage D between 45th and 46th street and in the lots at 46th and Monarch Way and 46th and Killam Avenue.

Science Alliance Live! was launched after Alonzo, Hill, Dobbs and Adcock received $45,000 in support earlier this year from the university's Office of Research. The grant, which sprang from the ODU Climate Change and Sea Level Rise Initiative, is titled "Scientific Awareness Through Theatre: Inspiring Young People to Value Scientific Practice as We Adapt to Sea Level Rise and Climate Change."

Larry Atkinson, the ODU Slover Professor of Oceanography who directs the Climate Change and Sea Level Rise Initiative, praised the interdisciplinary collaboration behind the Alliance. "Who would have thought that a faculty member in theatre arts would be working on a project with oceanographers and STEM educators? This would not have happened without the networking brought about by our Climate Change and Sea Level Rise Initiative."

Other ODU faculty members working with the Alliance are Stephen Pullen, associate professor of communication and theatre arts, and Ginger Watson, associate professor of STEM education and professional studies.

Paula Lancelotti is the Alliance's production administrator.

As a writer and director, Alonzo specializes in the creation of new work for the stage. Her recently written "Mary Anning: Girl Fossil Hunter," is a play about how a young girl made one of the most important scientific discoveries of the 19th century.

This article was posted on: October 24, 2011

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