Background and Aim

In Japan, it has been noted that interest in science declines as the school year progresses. According to the 2019 TIMSS results, the percentage of elementary and middle school students who say “studying science is fun” declined as they reached middle school, falling below the international average for middle school students – even though they ranked fourth and third internationally in science scores for elementary and middle school students. Japan also has the lowest proportion of women in STEM subjects among OECD countries. In academia, this is attributed to (1) stereotypes perceived as masculine, (2) lack of early-stage experience, and (3) low self-efficacy as factors that discourage women from entering engineering and physical sciences.

To break this stereotypes, I have been involved in science communication activities combined with dance elements in public places such as TV, YouTube and events since 2016. My main mission is to create opportunities for people to engage with science regardless of their environment or gender by hosting science entertainment shows across Japan.

Since about 1998, science entertainment shows have been spreading like a boom nationwide and are held on weekends in Japan. However, it has been pointed out that scientific events are attended by a segment of children with already a high interest in science. Therefore, I have started to put on free dance science shows in public places such as commercial facilities that include dance moves, in order to reach people who are not interested in science to participate in the show.

Results and Conclusion

As soon as I start dancing, people fill even the second floor of commercial buildings to join the science show and more people can be reached than by simply showing scientific experiments. The video about shaking cream with dance was viewed more than 2.5 million times on X. Dancing Science Shows offer children and people, who are not interested in science yet, the opportunity to experience science for free. Over the past 5 years, I have held more than 100 science shows nationwide.

To measure impact, I also assess the changes in the image of “science” before and after participating in science shows. I use qualitative interview surveys and “Draw an Engineer Test” to evaluate what programs are effective for children.

Miki Igarashi is a dancing science entertainer in Japan. Her main job is to create opportunities for people to get in touch with science, regardless of their environment or gender. She is the host of science entertainment shows all over Japan; she works as a regular host on educational TV programs related with chemistry; she communicates science information to children on YouTube; and she publishes science books. Miki is also researching the effects and impact of the above at the University of Tokyo, where she was appointed associated Professor and the Tokyo University of Science.

Further Activities to have a look at