Circus twist has Ipswich students rolling up for science lessons

STEAM Circus lead trainer Vanessa Thomas, Dr Meg Hooper and Ipswich Junior Grammar School’s Head of Digital Innovation Luke Wild.

It’s science with a twist.

An Ipswich circus performer, Dr Meg Hooper has joined forces with an entrepreneurship, science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics (E-STEAM) school teacher, Ipswich Junior Grammar School’s Head of Digital Innovation Luke Wild, to come up with a unique way to engage students in E-STEAM.

STEAM Circus is a program Dr Hooper has designed after she noticed that children with learning difficulties engaged really well in her regular circus program.

“I thought why not combine basic science with a super engaging thing that has lots of opportunities to learn about science, maths and physics,” Dr Hooper said.

“We are getting the conversations started with kids using circus.”

Students are shown how to make shapes with their bodies using acro balance, learn about capacity by making a hoop house and learn about perimeter all using circus arts.

“I talk to the children about forces and angles, how much push force and pull force to do you need to put against each other to make shapes. We ask which shape is the strongest and why,” Dr Hooper said.

“For the younger students they build a hoop house and they had to work out how to measure the capacity, and they figure out how many people can you fit inside. They then have to fit in as many people as they can.
“We then ask them how would you increase the capacity and decrease the capacity and they are playing with hoops the whole time.”

Ipswich Junior Grammar School’s Head of Digital Innovation Luke Wild saw merit in the idea when he was first approached by Dr Hooper.

“Combining circus with E-STEAM learning is a little bit creative and interesting and that is what I am always striving to do here in class,” Mr Wild said.

“The students have been very engaged and we think it has been a big success.”

Dr Hooper is keen to expand to as many schools in the Ipswich area as possible.

“Particularly at schools where their access to resources is not readily available,” Dr Hopper said.

About Junior Grammar’s Bright Sparks Workshop

Established in 2015, Ipswich Junior Grammar School’s Bright Sparks Workshop is a learning space dedicated to building students’ skills, knowledge and passion in E-STEAM (Entrepreneurship, Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics). Students regularly have access to flying drones, coding, robotics, virtual reality, LEGO, Bee-Bots and green screens.

Bright Sparks also offers holiday and after school activities including Coding Club, Robotics Club, Design Squad and a huge variety of exciting programs. The Bright Sparks program also plays host to regular workshops and professional development experiences for other schools in the region.

STEAM Circus is being run by Circus Ipswich’s Dr Meg Hooper and lead trainer Vanessa Thomas. If you wish to partner with them to bring STEAM Circus to your school, please contact them on their Facebook page or phone 0417 728 609.

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