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  • Steve Sucato

GroundWorks Program Sheds Light on the Total Solar Eclipse for Eager Children’s Museum Audience

By Steve Sucato

GroundWorks DanceTheater was back at The Children's Museum of Cleveland this past April 1st as part of the museum’s Center Stage series that brings interactive and age-appropriate educational programs and world-class music, theater, and dance performances to the small stage.

GroundWorks’ teaching artists Morgan Ashley, Teagan Reed, Victoria Rumzis, Matthew Saggiomo, and GroundWorks’ Director of Education & Community Engagement Joan Meggitt all participated in the 30-minute morning education program, which was themed around the total solar eclipse on April 8.

Meggitt says the goal of GroundWorks' educational programming for young children is to engage them immediately in the program.

The interactive program for children aged eight and younger began with a “brain dance,” a simple exercise routine inspired by author Anne Green Gilbert’s book on brain-compatible dance education. The routine was designed to integrate and strengthen the brain-body connection.

The remainder of the Center Stage program involved using three handheld signs representing the sun, moon, and earth. Says Meggitt, three of the teaching artists were assigned one of those celestial bodies, and we explained the different relationships between them one by one. 

“We asked the participating children about the total solar eclipse and the relationship between the earth and the moon, and many of them understood the concepts, such as that the moon goes round the earth, and the earth goes round the sun,” says Meggitt. “We had them practice orbiting around one another, holding up each sign. They took turns representing each of the three celestial bodies.”

Another activity the teaching artists engaged the participants in was follow-the-leader, in which one child represented the sun, and the other participants followed that child and did whatever they did. 

“We eventually built up to having all three of these celestial bodies working together in their related orbits,” says Meggitt. “The participants were really smart and asked great questions.”

The capacity-filled program was a no-pressure situation in terms of participation. “People could walk in and out of it,” says Meggitt. “Families and children got to see what interested them in a safe and joyful environment.”

Photos by Joan Meggitt, Morgan Ashley, and Molly Blake. 


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