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Celebrating Einstein a Success!

Celebrating Einstein's dancers celebrate the first detection of a gravitational wave by LIGO.
Photo and video artifacts can be found at

During April 2017, the Center for Gravitational Waves and Cosmology teamed up with the School of Theatre & Dance to engage students and the public in Celebrating Einstein, a series of month-long, interdisciplinary, multimedia, events dedicated to communicating the beauty and significance of Einstein’s theory of General Relatively. While originally hosted at Montana State University in 2013, WVU’s Celebrating Einstein events included: danced lectures, orchestra performances, artwork, readings, lectures, planetarium shows, and field trips. During the danced lecture, Dr. Sean McWilliams read a narration to the audience while a troupe of dancers acted out how dense objects like black holes can warp spacetime and how they produce gravitational waves.

The event was a huge success:
  • 4 field trips for local schools engaged 723 middle school students and teachers. Volunteers for field trip demonstrations involved 19 high school physics students, 1 high school physics teacher, and 36 undergrad/grad students and professors.
  • 4 danced lectures and 2 orchestra performances engaged 399 participants from the public.
  • 5 lectures and 2 documentaries engaged 346 participants
  • 5 planetarium shows engaged 210 participants
  • Facebook Live and Reddit engaged over 13,000 participants in 7 countries
Survey results (N-76) show statistically significant (p<0.001) gains in audience members’ conceptual understandings of the content (average gain = 20%). Audience members also provided extremely positive verbal affirmation (“I finally understand!” and “it brought tears to my eyes”), as well as written comments about their favorite parts (“Good non-conventional lecture with concept break down,” and “Nicely done. Much more educational than I imagined”).  The large majority of audience members responded that Celebrating Einstein enhanced their interest in physics or astronomy (N=82, 7-point Likert average = 4.8).  and their likelihood for attending future events that combine art and science (N=82, 7-point Likert average = 5.9).

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