Bustleton: Philadelphia Education Fund and ArtsRising Influences Student Involvement

FMA Live dancers perform in front of Baldi Middle School students and teachers.


Education does not come just from textbooks anymore. Schools in Philadelphia are taking a different route and are taking students outside of the classroom in order to get the most out of their education. Programs to better education in the city booked an event to help better understand science.

Philadelphia Education Fund brought Force In Motion to Baldi Middle School last week. The performance included three dancers who put on a performance focusing on Isaac Newton’s three laws of motion, along with a video complimenting the lessons taught through song and dance.

Student volunteers to be used as an example of Newton's Laws Of Motion.
Student volunteers were used as an example of Newton’s Laws Of Motion.

Students were selected by their teachers to be volunteers for different activities. One activity included using a slingshot to throw a ball at a target, trigger applesauce to spill down on a well-liked science teacher. This was showing the example of the third law that every action has an equal and opposite reaction.

“I liked this activity more than just learning from textbooks,” said eighth-grade volunteer Amaris Moody-Daniels. “It was more hands on. Once you are into it, you really don’t think of it as, ‘Oh this is the laws of motion.’ You just think of it as fun.”

PEF is an organization which works to improve the quality of education to students. The goal is to prep young students to graduate and be prepared for college. This affects schools all throughout the city in order for schools, teachers and students to succeed.

“Kids are learning physics through art and performance,” CEO Darren Spielman said. “So we are doing our job.”

PEF is designed to help with all educational subjects. They strive to provide sources and support for teachers to be able to provide the best education they can.

There is a strict reason why Spielman picked Baldi to host the event.

“Middle school matters,” Spielman said. “We make sure we are paying attention to young people at a very critical time and giving them the support and education that they need.”

The same goes for the high schools within the city.

“The future of our city, our region and our nation relies on equality public education,” Spielman said. “We are not going to have democracy, simple society and functioning economy unless we invest in public education.”

Programs such as this are helping the students to learn the concepts needed in the future as they better themselves. With hands-on activities, they are able to apply what they learn, like how things are relevant in the real world and their everyday lives.

Though PEF is citywide, they have created an initiative within themselves. Known as ArtsRising, this program aims to educate students in subjects such as math and science through creative channels like music and dance. Schools in Northeast, West and North Philadelphia currently participate in this program.

Mural painted on walls in Baldi Middle School by members of the ArtsRising initiative.
Murals painted by ArtsRising lined the walls of Baldi Middle School.

“They use the arts to get kids excited about  other subject matters,” explained Ambrose Liu, a coordinator for the ArtsRising program. “In this case, STEM – science, technology, education, and math.”

Programs through ArtsRising do not always aim to educate students about math and science. Assemblies set up in the past have brought in performances focusing strictly on arts, from hip-hop dance performances to performers from the Walnut Street Theatre. These assembles aimed to encourage students to become involved with different art programs.

“Part of the reason ArtsRising was created was to be a connector, a ‘go-between,’ someone to be bridge and to bring those opportunities to the children of Philadelphia,” Liu said. “And they certainly benefit from that.”

Though the ArtsRising initiative has only been around for about three years, Liu said he has noticed a difference in the amount of community involvement from Philadelphia. Involvement in activities such as the Philadelphia Boys Choir, which requires an audition for membership, or funded programs through the Museum of Art are just a few examples of the positive influences made by the ArtsRising initiative and Philadelphia Education Fund.

To learn more about the organization, please visit their website.

FMA Live dancers perform in front of Baldi Middle School students and teachers.
Performers in front of Baldi Middle School students and teachers.

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