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UW grad student brings physics, art to virtual learning

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virtual kaleidescope
Fiene's class using the kaleidoscopes they received in their take-home kits during virtual learning.

MADISON (WKOW) -- A University of Wisconsin grad student teamed up with a Madison teacher to bring hands-on activities to virtual school.

Aedan Gardill enjoys combining his passion for both science and art. He said he uses his art to promote underrepresented scientists in the field.

His project for this year's virtual Wisconsin Science Fair features "invisible" portraits of three female UW physics faculty. Using physics is the only way to view the portraits.

"The other half of the project was dealing with outreach and teaching some of the concepts that are used in these portraits to local elementary students in the Madison area," said Gardill.

Gardill joined forces with Henderson Elementary teacher Amber Fiene to bring the physics from his art piece to her students.

"I think outreach is the best way to get the next generation of kids interested in science," said Gardill.

Each student received a kit with materials for experiments dealing with light and optics. With the help of some other grad students, Gardill would then teach the class of fifth graders about the physics of light.

"The biggest impact of this project on my students was the fact that they had something tangible to learn with and just bringing the excitement to virtual learning," said Fiene.

On Friday, Madison Metropolitan School District announced it would continue with virtual learning through the winter. Fiene says Gardill inspired her to keep using hands-on, creative ways to teach her kids.

"Doing the series of activities with the kids almost brought tears to our eye. As teachers, to see the excitement, that was something we hadn't been seeing lately," said Fiene.

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Jessica Viti

Intern, WKOW TV

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