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Advancing Science Communications with Art, Stony Brook Playwriting Competition Changes the “T” in “S-T-E-M” to Theatre

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Stony Brook University Simons Center for Geometry and Physics announces its third annual Science Playwriting Competition winners. Pictured are (l. to r.) first prize winner Moira Chas, Associate Professor of Mathematics for her play,
Stony Brook University Simons Center for Geometry and Physics announces its third annual Science Playwriting Competition winners. Pictured are (l. to r.) first prize winner Moira Chas, Associate Professor of Mathematics for her play, “The Mathematical Visions of Alicia Boole,” third prize winner Colin West, a Ph.D. candidate at Yang Institute for Theoretical Physics for his play “Counting Sheep” and honorable mention winner Paige Borak, a senior Theatre Arts and Psychology major for her play “Entropy.”

November 12, 2015 — Stony Brook University’s Simons Center for Geometry and Physics, C. N. Yang Institute for Theoretical Physics, and Department of Theatre Arts announce their third annual Science Playwriting Competition. The winning entries, submitted by University faculty, current and former students and a freelance writer from California, were inspired by the lives of real people, common pop culture references and more.

The contest, created by Christopher Herzog, associate professor at the C.N. Yang Institute for Theoretical Physics at Stony Brook, combines science and theatre, while finding new ways of teaching difficult concepts, traditionally based in the classroom.

“By bringing science and theatre together, the annual Science Playwriting Competition aims to find new ways of teaching, learning, and thinking,” said Herzog. “Science plays are an excellent tool for explaining difficult concepts and this competition provides an outlet for scientists and playwrights to go beyond the bounds of their normal ways of thinking, spark their imagination and synthesize a new experience for all.”

Stony Brook students, staff, faculty and members of the community submitted 10-minute plays combining themes of science and theatricality. The top winners are:

  • First prize: Moira Chas, an Associate Professor of Mathematics at Stony Brook for her play “The Mathematical Visions of Alicia Boole” — inspired by the life and work of Alicia Boole Stott, a mathematician remembered for her contributions to geometry, and for coining the word polytope.
  • Second prize: Michael Shodell, previously an undergraduate at Stony Brook in mathematics, is recognized for his play “A Number of Things.” Shodell borrows from the life of Lewis Fry Richardson, who pioneered modern mathematical techniques of weather forecasting and tried to use similar techniques to predict and prevent wars.
  • Third prize: Colin West, a Ph.D. candidate at the C.N. Yang Institute for Theoretical Physics at Stony Brook (YITP), for his play “Counting Sheep” — a story set far back in the past, it’s a refreshing look at what, exactly, it means to count something.

Two plays that received honorable mention include “Entropy” by Paige Borak, a senior Theatre Arts and Psychology major at Stony Brook, and “A Planet is Born” by Hillary Bhaskaran, a freelance writer from southern California.

The winning plays were honored with a reception and showcased in public staged readings on Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2015 at the Simons Center Auditorium at Stony Brook.

These competitions are sponsored by the Simons Center Art Program, the C. N. Yang Institute for Theoretical Physics (YITP) and the Stony Brook University Department of Theatre Arts. Play submissions for the fourth annual Science Playwriting Competition are now being accepted. The deadline for submissions is April 1, 2016. For more information visit, http://scgp.stonybrook.edu/scienceplays or call 631-632-2800.

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