Forum on Education of The American Physical Society
Summer 2006 Newsletter

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The Bose Harmony With Education Program

Jason Brisbois

Why do I have to learn this stuff? When am I ever going to use this in the real world? Why should I care about this? If these questions sound familiar to you, chances are you are in the company of youths challenging the lessons provided by many educators, professionals and parents.

There are many approaches to address questions such as these, but perhaps you wouldn't expect them to be addressed by a privately held research corporation. "In order to be better, you must be different" - guiding advice from Bose Corporation's Founder, Chairman and Technical Director, Dr. Amar Bose. This is a fundamental value bred throughout the company since its founding in 1964. And since Dr. Bose is a former educator, it seemed natural that Bose Corporation should develop an education outreach program to provide students with a unique way to learn standards-based academics.

The Bose Harmony With Education Program is an education outreach initiative developed by Bose Corporation in conjunction with MENC: The National Association for Music Education. The purpose of this program is to provide the education community with a free and engaging program that educates late elementary to early middle school level students about fundamental concepts in science, music, and mathematics.

We quickly learned from speaking with educators that a field trip experience would be fantastic, but it would also need classroom activities to support its retention. For this reason, there are two components to the In Harmony With Education program: an in- class curriculum and a field trip experience.

The in-class curriculum is available online at www.bose.com/inharmony , where there are downloadable lessons focusing on interdisciplinary instruction in music, science, and math. These lessons are designed for any teachers to use or modify to fit their unique classroom needs. The second component, the field trip experience, is currently available in the Northeast United States and Southern California. Additionally, the program has been launched in the United Kingdom, Singapore, Australia, Canada and India.

During the field trip experience, students participate in a 90-minute field trip consisting of two 45-minute stations. One station defines sound in terms of vibration, pressure waves and detection, and also consists of a surround sound show produced by Bose exclusively for this education initiative. The other station focuses on scientific methods for analyzing sounds. Therefore an oscilloscope is introduced, explained and used to present audio/visual connections such as pitch/frequency and loudness/amplitude. After these science points are introduced, students use authentic musical instruments to reaffirm these sound wave characteristics, and gain multi-cultural enlightenment about the instruments themselves. Finally, this session wraps up by having all students play together as an orchestra using simple-to-make instruments (emulating the authentic ones), with each instrument type assigned to its own rhythm. This helps the students obtain musical appreciation, and a more thorough understanding of the concentration a musician must posses while contributing to the entire orchestra.

Developing this type of program takes considerable time input, management and resources, which is representative of Bose Corporation's dedication to education. Differentiating between "edutainment" and true education required collaboration among not only Bose employees, but also with credible organizations such as MENC and research within the education community itself. The result is an educational experience that teachers can harness and use to apply to new teaching methods. Consequently their students can learn in a new way. We're taking traditionally difficult concepts across multiple disciplines and making them fun to learn.

"Music is universal. It touches the human spirit at a very fundamental level. Everyone 'gets' music. But deeply rooted in music are mathematics and the physics of sound, topics that can be difficult for a young student to 'get.' Music is a door that students can easily open to illuminate topics in science and math. That is the aspect of IHWE that is most exciting for me: through enjoyable classroom and field experiences with music, students are exposed to some solid concepts in physics and mathematics." - Dr. William Short, Bose Fellow and key contributor to the Bose In Harmony With Education program.

In the nine years the program has existed, an increasing emphasis on education emerged. Today nearly everyone knows what NCLB stands for and at least some of the ramifications it has had on the American education system. Accordingly, teachers are tasked with ensuring their students achieve academic standards. "Teach to the test" is unfortunately an all too common phrase. With this increased emphasis on standardized test scores, enrollment in the In Harmony With Education program has experienced constant growth. Why? Because although it is designed to be engaging and fun, the subject matter directly relates to the National Education Standards, and consequently to state education frameworks. This has proven an essential key to the existence of the field trip component of the program, with educators constantly needing to rationalize funding for busses, admission and other associated fees for field trips. With the Bose In Harmony With Education program, educators can state what frameworks will be addressed, and better understand how the expected outcomes go well beyond enrichment.

Most recently, Bose has expanded the In Harmony With Education program to international regions where Bose has a presence. Currently the program is operational in Singapore, Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada and India. For these regions, we used a similar approach of meeting local needs. While the primary content of the field trip experience stays intact, we conduct research on the regional education syllabi to ensure the program is promoted to the proper age group, and we explore subtle changes to meet local cultural needs. In some of these countries, we also hire a dedicated program manager to ensure compliance with the governmental education requirements and to ensure a quality experience for everyone involved.

The Bose In Harmony With Education program regularly seeks to collaborate with universities and large primary schools throughout the Northeast U.S. and Southern California. With university collaborations, we look to host the field trips on a campus, provide a training seminar for the university-appointed instructors who will deliver the field trip experience and provide the materials necessary to teach the field trip. When collaborating with a primary school, we prepare classroom teachers to teach the field trip experience by providing a professional development seminar, and by temporarily installing the necessary materials to operate the field trip experience (instruments, theater equipment, etc.). For either operation model, we request that approximately 2,000 students from the region participate over a 4-5 week time period. This typically is accomplished by teaching 3-4 classes per day. If you are interested in learning more about the Bose In Harmony With Education program, or would like to explore the possibility for a collaboration to implement this program, please call 800-905-1541 or email inharmonywitheducation@bose.com.

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A fifth grader plays a Peruvian maraca, while her classmates observe the wave patterns on an oscilloscope

Jason Brisbois is the International Operations Manager at the Bose Corporation.

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