Ever tried explaining science using dance?

Some of my fellow Women in Science and Engineering are finalists in this fun contest called “Dance your PhD.”

The dreaded question. “So, what’s your Ph.D. research about?” You could bore them with an explanation. Or you could dance.

That’s the idea behind “Dance Your Ph.D.” Over the past 3 years, scientists from around the world have teamed up to create dance videos based on their graduate research.

I’m sure they’d love some more votes, and I just wanted to share their creative way of explaining chemistry, so here’s the video:

Selection of a DNA aptamer for homocysteine using SELEX from Maureen McKeague on Vimeo.

McKeague’s Ph.D. dance, based on her research at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada, is about a technique called Systematic Evolution of Ligands by Exponential Enrichment (SELEX). The target is a small molecule called homocysteine. SELEX uses natural selection to find the small strands of DNA called aptamers (the other dancers) that bind specifically to the target. Watch for the hilarious Taq Polymerase scene in the middle of the dance.

When you’re done watching, you can check out the other entrants and vote for your favourite on the sciencemag website. I think the Da Rosa lab video does the best job of really explaining the research so they’ve got my vote, but I’m biased, and the other entrants are pretty impressive too. The results will be announced on October 19th.

And here’s a question to all of you: what’s the weirdest way you’ve explained what you do, be that research, code, your favourite game or show, etc? Anyone inspired to try some dance now?

4 thoughts on “Ever tried explaining science using dance?

  1. Sushi

    This dance contest needs a math category. I’ve had to explain my math to people who don’t get it, and trying to explain it in dance might actually be effective. Case in point: My favorite area of math is abstract algebra, which is basically the algebra that most people know but applied to systems that aren’t necessarily the real numbers. That’s how I explain it in a sentence. Nothing has ever gotten really crazy off the top of my head, though I’m sure I’ve pulled off some crazy explanations.

  2. Sharon

    Once I used some small folding quilts.
    Once I used a game with volunteers and audience participation.

      1. Sharon

        Some concepts in theoretical computer science. The folding quilts were used to explain folds and unfolds, which are some programming patterns with underlying category theory. This was in a context of something called multirelations, which is what the interactive game was used to illustrate.

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