Embodied Thinking is using one's body to enter into a concept through position, movement or simply imagining what it would feel like to be something other than what you are. Empathy is a related concept where you imagine what it would be like to be another being.
To kinaesthetically think about the mole, I chose two positions to contemplate the meaning of a mole. The first position(Figure 1) is that of looking up at the sky – looking for the stars in the sky – almost trying to count them. To be a simple atom counted among a mole – it is like looking up at the sky at the billions of stars in the sky – feeling so small and insignificant.
The second position(Figure 2) is that of looking down at your hands – imagining all the atoms contained in your body – countless upon countless numbers of atoms. Such a contrast – even as you feel so small looking at the sky, you realize what we are made of and the complexities in our body and it is amazing to think about and the significance we are given.
I am hoping that this imagination exercise and use of our bodies will help students to stretch their imaginations. What would it feel like to be like an atom? What does it feel like to be a small atom in a uncountable mole of atoms? Look up at the stars and imagine what it feels like. However the students do not have to look far to find these countless masses of atoms – simply look back down at your hands and see them. Simply in your hands alone there are trillions upon trillions of atoms. Imagine how small you felt when looking up at the sky and now imagine being that small inside your hands as a small little atom.
In a sense, we are trying to empathize with an atom – similar to how Albert Einstein when he imagined being a photon of light moving along super fast and picturing the sensations he would have felt as that photon. I'm hoping this thought experiment of grand (and yet small) proportions will help my students to move beyond the abstractions and make the mole feel more concrete.
Technology Facilitator at Calvary Christian Schools. High School Science Teacher since 2008.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.