Engineering Students use Swing Dancing to Strengthen their Minds

the author dances with her partner

Swing Dancing Works the Mind, too!

Engineering students at Northwestern University are learning to swing dance for a very specific reason. They’re taking a for-credit class called Whole Body Thinking, according to the Associated Press.

The idea is to help future engineers break outside their comfort zones.  The course is led by Northwestern University professor of dance (yes, such a position exists at Northwestern) Billy Siegenfeld.  Engineering students, known for left-brain thinking, are using dance to learn to use more of the right side of their brains.

Studies have shown that learning to dance is one of the best ways to exercise the brain to keep it engaged.  In studying neural activity of the brain during dance, they found that dancing stimulates both the left and right sides of the brain.

Dance historian Richard Powers from Stanford University’s Dance Division, notes that dancing reduces the onset of dementia, improves neuroplasticity and helps with memory.

The students at Northwestern who are biomedical, mechanical and chemical engineering majors are benefiting from their dancing. They say they are learning more than just dance. The class, they say, is teaching them to think on their feet and work collaboratively with dance partners — skills they say will help make them better engineers.

By LaurieAnn Lepoff

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