by Beth McGregor on April 16, 2014

Having just moved to London to join my husband, I left behind two loves: classroom teaching at a school I loved dearly and my NYC stand-up comedy career. Open to discovering what the surprisingly warm shores of the Thames had to offer, I could not be happier to discover BEANii. With a background as both a performer and a teacher in primary science and theatre classroom education, I feel fortunate to apply my experience in the role of BEANii’s Educational Director.

What excites me most about BEANii is the opportunity to develop and deepen a curriculum that can have an experiential impact for all the students we reach. To do, I look forward to working on two main fronts with our programmes: utilizing the power of drama as a medium for education, and facilitating scientific understanding and discovery among young minds.

Facilitating scientific understanding and discovery among young minds

Aki Murata, my professor during my Masters in Elementary Education at Stanford University is an inspiring and exciting teacher, whose approach I strive to emulate. Despite studying Human Biology as an undergrad at Stanford, it took learning with her to see how good teaching could unlock the adventure of science. Science to her was about discovery and imagination. Science was about guiding students through the known into the unknown, imparting answers, and leaving the kind of lingering questions that made you want to learn even more. I have found teaching science to young kids very gratifying; seeing the student’s eyes light up when science is presented in an intriguing, hands-on way makes all the “backstage” preparations worthwhile. Given the opportunity to sleuth through mysteries, muck through problems posed, and dissect the matter at hand, science becomes more than just a book of stuff to learn. It becomes a whole world in which to wonder and explore. I would thus like to build on BEANii’s success and further develop its innovative approach to excite student learning in bioscience topics and promote long-term knowledge retention. I look forward to training our volunteers in the practices and pedagogy of science communication that will maximize the reach of our programme for children of all abilities and skill levels.

Utilizing the power of drama as a medium for education

Having also majored in drama as an undergraduate, I appreciate the power of meaningful performances. As an educator, I believe that performances can serve as important culminating events that help to crystallize learning. Drama games can teach group awareness and listening skills in ways that worksheets simply can’t (and clearly don’t even attempt to try). Drama can go beyond reprocessing content to become a unique medium for learning and discovery. BEANii’s mission is to enhance students’ scientific understanding through theatre and literature, the dramatic delivery of which can help them not only absorb knowledge, but also employ in living healthier lives. I look forward to fully utilizing drama in helping science come alive both physically and mentally.

Both theatre and science give those who investigate and engage with them the chance to think experimentally about the world, to ask the why and how and if and what that strengthen the analytical and creative brain. Guiding students through both dramatic and scientific paths of discovery is a uniquely gratifying process that I have enjoyed as a classroom teacher, and a huge excitement I have for the work that lies ahead as a BEANii director.

I look forward to drawing upon what I’ve learned, and I look forward to learning a lot in my new role as BEANii Educational Director.

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