Kúkátónón’s Learning Initiative


Post written by Taylor Gibson

Starting in 2014, Kúkátónón is expanding its dancing and drumming lessons to integrate performing arts with math and science.  Kúkátónón is collaborating with arts education specialist Wendy Thompson of Wahkeena Arts and Education to work with its teaching artists to design a pilot curriculum that integrates dancing and drumming with science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

STEM education has been a major focus in education initiatives since President Obama announced in 2009 the administration’s “Educate to Innovate” campaign to inspire students to become interested in STEM.  To date, it is rare to see the arts and STEM combined, which is what Kúkátónón aspires to do, turning STEM to STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, mathematics).  The goal is to give the students a well-rounded school-based learning program, using the intersection of arts and STEM.  A study by the National Endowment for the Arts demonstrates that students who actively participate in the arts tend to score better on science and writing tests, and are more likely to feel motivated to go to college.

Kúkátónón, in collaboration with Wahkeena Arts Education will provide a variety of options for the new curriculum to be taught by classroom teachers or through after school activities.  The curriculum will fall in line with state and federal Common Core standards, as well as Kúkátónón’s artistic work and connection to West African culture.  According to Thompson, the children can expect lessons on Polyrhythms, which focus on rhythm, dance, and mathematics; as well as the science of West African dance and drumming which provide insightful lessons on the laws of motion and the physics of sounds.  The versatility and flexibility of this new program will allow students to explore learning in a non-traditional, creative setting.  Math and science have always been intrinsic in dancing and drumming; now the children of Kúkátónón will get to experience that in new and exciting ways.

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