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“Celebrating Einstein” is a public outreach event committed to communicating science, specifically Einstein’s theory of General Relativity (GR), to the general public. Originally created at Montana State University and the eXtreme Gravity Institute, Celebrating Einstein was most recently hosted by West Virginia University (WVU) through a month-long series of events, including danced lectures, orchestra performances, artwork, readings, lectures, planetarium shows, and field trips. An interdisciplinary collaboration between the Department of Physics & Astronomy and the School of Theatre & Dance resulted in 4 field trips for 723 middle school students and teachers, 4 danced lecture performances and 2 orchestra performances for 399 people from the general public, 5 lectures and 2 documentaries for 346 participants, and 5 planetarium shows for over 200 adults and children. This event reached about 13,000 people in 7 different counties via Facebook Live and Reddit.
The Celebrating Einstein goals are to increase both the audience members’ interest in physics and astronomy and their conceptual understanding of Einstein’s theory of GR. Overall, the audience’s average conceptual gain significantly increased by 20%. The positive feedback from the public was astonishing; “Nicely done. Much more educational that I imagined” and “It brought tears to my eyes” are examples of audience feedback.
Overall, the combination of art and dance to communicate science proved an effective and creative way to motivate engagement. If you would like to see more information, please visit the Einstein event page.