More than 300 fifth-graders from South Bend area schools, including Holy Cross’ St. Adalbert School, spent a day at the University of Notre Dame learning about the science of sound, the result of a year-long collaboration calledndWAVES.
The students learned from Notre Dame students andThird Coast Percussion, the University’s ensemble-in-residence. Using percussion instruments that the Notre Dame students designed and built, the students received hands-on lessons on music, sound, engineering and design.
The idea for ndWAVES started when Notre Dame professorJay Brockmanwas asked to consult by the South Bend Community School Corp. on programs forSTEM science, technology, engineering and math. “The notion of separatingSTEMfrom the arts felt like there was something really missing,” said Brockman. “We have these ideas of analysis and experimentation, which we tend to call science, and these ideas of creativity and synthesis, which we tend to call art. But really, both disciplines use those, and we can draw on examples of both to help feed each other.” Brockman and theSBCSCsettled onSTEAMinstead, adding the A for arts.
Brockman spent the summer of 2013 arranging a collaboration among Notre Dame, Third Coast Percussion and Wilco drummer and composer Glenn Kotche, who was working withTCPon a new piece. The collaboration, which would demonstrate that the arts and sciences are reliant on each other, would result in a hands-on outreach project for local schoolchildren.
Brockman arranged for a one-credit, pass/fail course for Notre Dame students from any background who were interested in combiningSTEMand the arts. The students met in the Stinson-Remick Hall of Engineering to use the state-of-the-artdesign deck, including a laser cutter and 3-D printer, to get to work on building these musical instruments. The undergraduates worked with Third Coast Percussion to design, engineer and construct log drums, penny whistles and chimes for the musical piece. Peter Martin of Third Coast Percussion composed a piece using just four notes that could be played using the custom-designed instruments.
On May 12, more than 300 fifth-graders visited DeBartolo Performing Arts Center and Stinson-Remick Hall to learn from Notre Dame students and Third Coast Percussion about the science and creativity of music. The day started in DeBartolo, where the students gathered to learn aboutWAVES wonder, arts, vibration, energy and science and see the scientific instruments used to study sound, including an oscilloscope and a spectrum analyzer. The elementary students also toured the design deck at Stinson-Remick and got hands-on demonstrations with the instruments. The afternoon ended with a concert with Third Coast Percussion at DeBartolo, where the students played the instruments made at Notre Dame.
Read more about the project on ND’s website.