The science of laughing in class - Education Matters Magazine
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The science of laughing in class

Students at the Australian Science and Mathematics School in Adelaide have become stand-up comedians, laughter yogis, disco dancers, artists and master chefs, as part of a new learning program to explore the science of emotion while supporting student wellbeing.

Located at Flinders University, the Australian Science and Mathematics School (ASMS) caters for students in Years 10-12.

ASMS aims to engage students with their learning by making science fun. Students have been participating in activities that include:

  • Performing stand-up comedy.
  • Competing in a ‘mystery box’ cooking challenge.
  • Dancing in a silent disco.
  • Practising laughter yoga.
  • Expressing creativity through art.

Each student has also designed and attended a ‘Choose Your Own Excursion’ including picnics in the Botanic Gardens, escaping adventure rooms, hiking outdoors, working with animals and dog sitting.

Students collected data before and after each activity to measure the impact on their psychological health.

They will also develop persuasive pieces to present to their classmates in the form of television advertisements demonstrating the science and wellbeing value of their activities.

Director of Professional Learning and Psychology Teacher at the ASMS, Karla Pobke, said students were exploring the science of emotion and how this impacts their psychological health.

“Students are learning about science in a way that is fun and engaging while gaining important life skills to support their emotional health and wellbeing. Much of the popular dialogue around psychological health relates to mindfulness, diet and exercise,” she said.

“While these are key pillars, we have encouraged our students to extend their thinking and consider a broad range of activities that can build their emotional strength.

Students at ASMS have explored what it means to express emotions, how emotions can be triggered and controlled, and the role of facial expressions, body language, cognitive changes and physiological response.

“It has been fantastic to see our students respond with real interest and enthusiasm as they learn about the physiological, mental and social perspectives of their own personal health,” Ms Pobke added.

Principal ASMS, Jayne Heath, said the program reflected the school’s interdisciplinary approach to learning. “We don’t deliver traditional lessons in traditional subjects at the ASMS,” she said.

“Our approach is to support students to explore the big ideas and problems of the world by creating meaningful connections across science, maths and humanities. We believe this is the best way to prepare students for the jobs of the future.”