Date of Graduation

12-2017

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering

Degree Level

Undergraduate

Department

Civil Engineering

Advisor

Prinz, Gary

Reader

Bernhardt-Barry, Michelle

Second Reader

Fairey, Julian

Abstract

Many studies have investigated the effects of music on evoking human emotions and diverse types of brain responses. One study by Juslin and Vastfjall indicates that hearing music can stimulate brain stem reflexes, create emotional contagion, recall episodic memories and provoke visual imagery. Due to the influence music has on human brain waves, researchers have been studying the effect of music on enhancing the spatial abilities of young students. Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) professions rely heavily on spatial skills. Research on the connection of music with spatial skills proposes that when the brain processes rhythm a “mental rotation” occurs, which stimulates the brain’s spatial-temporal ability. Also suggested, is that music enhances learning due to the multiple types of thinking that are required to make and learn music. Creating music requires an extended practice of musical, visual-spatial, mathematical, interpersonal, intrapersonal and kinesthetic intelligences and when students make music they will be practicing and enhancing these abilities.

This study develops an innovative K-12 outreach program and explores the effects of coupling music education with STEM specific curricula through songwriting workshops, termed STEMusic workshops. The goal of the STEMusic outreach program is to promote creativity, conceptual understanding and retention of STEM specific concepts at the elementary level through the alternative cognitive process of creating music. Traditional methods of teaching engineering concepts do not involve emotional learning processes. By combining songwriting, rhythm and performance art with STEM principles, students are exposed to an emotional musical experience that may create long-term memories of the curricula and help with retention of the STEM concepts.

Keywords

STEM, Elementary, Education, Music, Engineering, Assessment

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