Creative Arts and Sciences (CAS)

Since 1960, each Newton Public School PTO has had a Creative Arts & Sciences Committee – CAS, that sponsors visiting programs to enhance students’ education.

Presenters typically include award-winning authors, accomplished musicians, artists, scientists, Museum of Science, etc. Programs can be an adjunct to art, English, library, mathematics, music, physical education, science, or social studies curricula.

Bigelow’s Creative Arts & Sciences Committee brings several programs to the school each year.  Many of them are teacher favorites that are requested every year, others are new and different. To learn more about the CAS program, visit the NPS website or view this CAS poster.

CAS programs, funded solely by the PTO, are made possible through PTO fundraising. Thank you for you support!

The following programs will be offered at Bigelow in the 2019-2020 school year:

All Grades: CAS Authorfest 2019! Author & Illustrator Visits

11/06/19 – Newton Public Schools’ Creative Arts & Sciences is dedicating November 6, 2019 to recognize and celebrate the importance of books in our children’s lives. We know that students are uniquely inspired when they’re given the opportunity to meet the authors and illustrators of books they’ve read. A wide range of authors and illustrators will be visiting schools across the district during the day to talk about the writing and illustrating process – from idea to published work.

Gregory Mone (7th grade) and Sheela Chari (6th and 8th grades) will be the authors visiting Bigelow.

Gregory Mone (gregorymone.com) is the author of four published novels and scientific articles for magazines including Popular Science, Atlantic Monthly, Wired and Scientific American. He adapted The Boys in the Boat, by Daniel James Brown, for young readers, and recently co-wrote three books in The Science Guy series with Bill Nye, The Science Guy.  Mone’s large-group presentation is designed to entertain, educate and inspire, and begins with a focus on science and technology journalism before turning to fiction. Utilizing a variety of visual components, he takes students through the entire process of writing a book, from the initial idea through the planning, creative writing, and revisions, to the finished work. He stresses the importance of becoming an expert in whatever subject you write about, whether it’s brain surgery, flying cars, surfing, or family history.

Sheela Chari (sheelachari.com) is the author of FINDING MIGHTY, a Junior Library Guild Selection and Children’s Choice Award Finalist; and VANISHED, an APALA Children’s Literature Honor Book, Edgar finalist for best juvenile mystery, and Al’s Book Club Pick on the Today Show. She is currently working on a novelized series, THE UNEXPLAINABLE DISAPPEARANCE OF MARS PATEL, based on the Peabody Award-winning mystery podcast by the same name created by Gen-Z Media. Sheela has degrees from Stanford University, Boston University, and New York University, where she received an MFA in Fiction. She teaches fiction writing at Mercy College and lives with her family in New York.

All grades – Women in the World of Jazz: “A Tribute to women artists around the world”

03/05/20 – Women In World Jazz brings together women of different nationalities with extensive experience in music performance and education. The music is relatable, diverse, and engaging. All members of the group are accomplished musicians playing a variety of music ranging from Jazz to World/Ethnic. This international roster directly influences the choice of repertoire.

A Tribute to Composers Around the World features world music composed by women artists past and present. The 45-minute program incorporates slides, visual props, and student participation. Women In World Jazz teach about these pioneer women and their music, and give the students a taste of their cultures. More here.

8th grade – Theatre Espresso: “Uprising on King Street: The Boston Massacre”

10/29/19 – Theatre Espresso uses theatre to teach students critical thinking skills. They believe that student participation is the key to intellectual engagement with history, issues of human rights, and the concept of justice. Their historical dramas empower students to explore the parallels between historical events and contemporary issues. By putting students in roles as Supreme Court Justices, state senators, or members of a jury, the actors invite students to reflect on and debate the issues raised by the plays. They are committed to the idea that educational theatre provides an ideal learning medium for promoting civic engagement.

Uprising on King Street: The Boston Massacre: In 1770, the people of Boston suffered under an increasingly harsh British occupation. What are the responsibilities of a military force sent to occupy a foreign land? Is violence ever necessary to keep the peace? What role does class play in the administration of justice? This production presents the events that led up to the Boston Massacre and sets the scene for the trial of Captain Preston, British officer on duty the night of March 5 when soldiers and citizens clashed in front of the Customs House. In roles as members of the jury at the trial of Captain Preston, students must examine the events leading up to the “massacre” and decide Preston’s guilt or innocence.

8th grade – TBD

7th grade – Tanglewood Marionettes: “Perseus and Medusa”

01/23/2020Tanglewood Marionettes offers a repertoire of classically presented fairy tales and myths presented by highly skilled puppeteers. This masterful production of Perseus and Medusa features beautiful, hand-crafted marionettes, scrolling sets, and enchanting music. Students are taken back in time to the ancient Greek world of gods, goddesses, prophecies and heroes, as they accompany Perseus through personal trials and glorious quests.

7th grade –  New England Aquarium: “Engineering and Erosion” 

Spring 2020 – TBD – This innovative Coastal Engineering Outreach Program from the New England Aquarium challenges students to address the issues of local coastal erosion through the engineering design process, with an emphasis on communication and collaboration. Students work as teams employing engineering design to plan, test and present their solutions to limit the erosion of sand from their own section of simulated sandy coastline. Working in teams, students are given a plexiglass tray filled with water and sand. Along with the tray, they are supplied with rocks, popsicle sticks, sponges, fabric and suction cups, representing what engineers might use to solve a problem. Several solutions are shared with the class following experimentations.

6th grade – Author Greg Mone: “Writing Process”

02/04/2020 – Mr. Mone is the author of four published novels and scientific articles for magazines including Popular Science, Atlantic Monthly, Wired and Scientific American. He adapted The Boys in the Boat, by Daniel James Brown, for young readers, and recently co-wrote three books in The Science Guy series with Bill Nye, The Science Guy. 

Mone’s large-group presentation is designed to entertain, educate and inspire, and begins with a focus on science and technology journalism before turning to fiction. Utilizing a variety of visual components, he takes students through the entire process of writing a book, from the initial idea through the planning, creative writing, and revisions, to the finished work. He stresses the importance of becoming an expert in whatever subject you write about, whether it’s brain surgery, flying cars, surfing, or family history. 

“Fantastic. So engaging. He really knew how to grab 10-11 year olds… Great lesson in explaining the importance of planning, editing, and revising.” — Hingham, MA, Elementary School

Greg Mone’s presentation for 6th Grade at Bigelow. 02/08/2019.

6th grade – Mike Francis‘ Starlab: “Night Skies”

10/17 and 10/18 – Mike Francis is a veteran physical science and physics teacher and long-time lecturer at the Charles Hayden Planetarium at Boston’s Museum of Science. His Night Skies program provides students with an unforgettable experience in observational astronomy, by bringing a “Starlab” — a giant inflatable planetarium dome and projector system — onsite.  Once inside the Starlab, which will be set up in the gym, up to 30 students at a time are guided through a tour of the remarkably realistic night sky, where Mr. Francis expertly points out the planets, stars, and constellations.


The following programs happened in 2018-2019:

  • All Grades – MassLEAP: “Louder than a Bomb” 
  • 6th Grade – Author Greg Mone: “How we got here”
  • 6th Grade – Starlab: “Night Skies”
  • 7th Grade – New England Aquarium: “Engineering and Erosion” 
  • 7th Grade – Tanglewood Marionettes: “Perseus and Medusa”
  • 8th Grade – Theatre Expresso: “Uprising on King Street: The Boston Massacre”
  • 8th Grade – Shakespeare Now!: “Power Play”

The following programs happened in 2017-2018:

  • All Grades: New England Percussion Ensemble
  • 6th Grade: Author Greg Mone
  • 6th and 7th Grades: Gabriel Bol Deng’s “The Power of Hope: To Move A Mountain”
  • 7th Grade: Tanglewood Marionettes – “Perseus and Medusa”
  • 8th Grade: Theatre Expresso: “Uprising on King Street: The Boston Massacre”
  • 8th grade: Shakespeare Now! “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”