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Grant to Fund Science Alliance Live! Interactive Program

By Jon Cawley

Scientists, artists and educators at Old Dominion have received a $15,000 grant from the Hampton Roads Community Foundation to fund Science Alliance Live!, an interactive program that features a production, "Tuk in the Arctic: A Play About Sea Ice Research," and hands-on classroom activities for approximately 850 children in kindergarten through grade 3.

Science Alliance Alive! introduces scientific research to local communities through the arts using collaborative events that engage kids and families. Science Alliance Live! events combine innovative interactive theater, hands-on science activities, and online games and simulations to promote scientific literacy in an inclusive family-friendly environment, according to the organization's website.

"We want to stimulate interest in science, especially with girls and children from at-risk populations, because everyone needs to be involved in research," said Jenifer Alonzo, the alliance's creative director and an assistant professor in the ODU College of Arts and Letters' communication and theatre arts department. She wrote, directed and produced "Tuk in the Arctic" in 2011. "The play features a woman researcher, Dr. Victoria Hill, and her Inuit working dog, Tuk, a character the children can relate to," Alonzo said.

"Tuk in the Artic" was developed in conjunction with ODU's Climate Change and Sea Level Rise Initiative.

The Community Leadership Partners grant will allow children from Jacox Elementary in Norfolk and Girls Inc. of the Greater Peninsula to see the play at ODU's Goode Theatre in May and June next year.

"Teachers and students will also receive in-class demonstrations relating Dr. Hill's scientific research to the Standards of Learning objectives," Alonzo said.

Science Alive! is a multidisciplinary collaboration of ODU faculty members, including: Alonzo; Stephen Burgin, assistant professor of STEM education and professional studies; Victoria Hill, research assistant professor of ocean, earth and atmospheric sciences; and Fred C. Dobbs, professor of ocean, earth and atmospheric sciences.

"Data collection in the distant land of the Arctic shows how research can impact life in Hampton Roads," Alonzo said. "We are connecting scientific research to our local community through the arts."

For more information call Jenifer Alonzo at 757-289-5272 or visit the Science Alliance Alive! website.

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