Music. It makes us want to move, sing and dance about - but have you ever wondered how?
Join neuroscientist Lewis Hou and the Science Ceilidh Band on a whirlwind tour of your senses and your brain as we explore what’s happening when you listen to and play music! From dancing neurons to neuronal dances, brain reels to real brains... Science has never sounded so good!
We run a Science Ceilidh Schools Visiting Programme engaging both Primary Schools and Secondary Schools. Working with partners such as Midlothian, Dunbar and Orkney Science Festivals, East Lothian Youth Music Initiative, Shetland Arts, Zero Waste Scotland, Naked Neuroscientists, NUI Galway's Youth Academy, we have seen over 12,000 students and are developing our programme to see even more schools and provide more resources, teacher plans and follow-on activities.
Our shows and workshops focus primarily on the science of music, touching on the physics of the instruments (leading to a slinky orchestra!) and then focusing on reinforcing the knowledge of the body, senses and exploring the brain!
For primary schools, there is an emphasis on movement, including games of Musical Neurons and with older primaries, a chance for the students to write their own "science ceilidh" dance based on the senses.
We adapt our workshops to engage all learning ages, from Primary 1 to Primary 7, changing the learning objectives and activities to match the needs of the learners, along with school resources and audience size. A sample of our lesson needs taken from our lesson plans, along with objectives and Curriculum for Excellence links are shown here.
With our Youth Music Initiative programme with East Lothian, there is a bigger focus on music composition, folk traditions around the world and performance! We have also run workshops focusing on physics (including making slime!) and sustainability.
For many of our visits, our ideal is to finish with an assembly or ceilidh performance open to the community groups as we believe it is important to be engaging with parents and the rest of the community in the young people's learning and empower the learners to take ownership of their new knowledge, skills and creative performance! (e.g. see here in Shetland!)
In partnership with Midlothian Science Festival and Saltersgate School, Dalkeith, we have also worked closely with learners with additional support needs to tailor the Science Ceilidh workshops on a more individual basis - see more here about our MUSE programme.
For secondary schools, we generally run more informal assemblies for larger group of students discussing the science of music, with a heavier emphasis on the latest neuroscience research, opportunities to ask questions, and science-technology, including seeing real brain scans, using an EEG machine to read brainwaves and even holding a 3D print-out of Lewis' Brain. This is generally in the format of our Dissect the Beat show though we have worked with smaller classes of Science Clubs, or school musicians/dancers, to explore the Science Ceilidh also.
Evaluation and Resources
We are continually evaluating and developing our programme, and you can see recent evaluation reports of our visits to Dunbar Science Festival (494 students, report), Midlothian Science Festival 2015 (651 students, here), and Dissect the Beat tour of the Orkney Science Festival (133 students, here), and eventually there will be resources available here too.
We are always amazed at the questions students ask, and will be collating and answering our favourite/most commonly asked questions too!
If you would like to work together with us to come visit your school, please feel free to get in touch.