Blending Dance and Science to Engage and Communicate

As a dancer and choreographer as well as research scientist, Dr. Jenkins is interested in the intersection of science and dance as a tool for conveying research results and engaging the community in projects. Below you will find links to various projects that blend dance and science to generate new ideas and raise awareness of marine conservation issues. You can learn more about Dr. Jenkins personal journey in combining dance and science here. You can also read about Dr. Jenkins’ research on the impacts of science dance on the current projects page.

Sea Turtle Science Dance

This video features a dance co-choreographed by Dr. Jenkins and the participants using a participatory process that Dr. Jenkins developed. The dance won 1st place in the International Sea Turtle Society’s Dance Your Research Competition in 2017. The short documentary, Making of video, reveals how the participants were transformed by experiences. A preliminary analysis of post-interviews showed the dancers: 1) voluntarily engaged in peer-to-peer sharing of knowledge while maintaining the integrity of the scientific information, 2) expressed newfound appreciation for sea turtle conservation work, 3) found meaningful connections between the research and their own interests, 4) demonstrated new knowledge, 5) expressed concern for sea turtles, 6) thought dance is a powerful tool to motivate more people to care about sea turtles, and 7) expressed a desire to perform the work again for more audiences.

Zoom Dance for Science Engagement

This is an example of how science dance can take place in virtual spaces. This dance used the prompt “Science engagement in a virtual world is_________.” to build this zoom dance. Participants create a movement for each word by first working as individuals, then sharing and editing as pairs, and finally arriving a group consensus for each word.  To individualize the dance, each person creates a unique movement to fill in the blank. This is a 5-10 minute engagement activity. To speed the activity, the facilitator can provide preset movements for all or part of the prompt. By changing the prompt, it can be used for engagement around any science topic or as an energizer.


Virtual Science Dance on Bee Conservation

The COVID-19 pandemic made the need to create engaging and energizing activities for young learners in online learning environments more important than ever. For this project, we have designed, refined, implemented, documented, and evaluated a series of movement and gesture-based activities to teach middle school students about bees and bee conservation, while celebrating the personal experiences and knowledge that they already have. A facilitation score that outlines step-by-step guidance for the 3 movement-based activities and personal meaning mapping was developed for other teachers and practitioners to adopt and adapt to their own unique teaching needs.

Student Art and the Oceans Video Project


Students in Dr. Jenkins’ course, Society and the Oceans, created group projects that expressed the course concepts through art. This video is of one of these projects and illustrates the trophic cascade between people, otters, sea urchins, and kelp. It depicts how the Monterey Bay went from a healthy ecosystem, to a degraded ecosystem, and finally to a recovering ecosystem.