Passion For Learning

Passion For Learning

Heather Neal

PBS Science Rap Finalists

By Heather NealPosted June 4, 2013 10:59am (EDT)
This snapshot is from one of the finalist's rap videos on... melanoma.  Yes, really.

This snapshot is from one of the finalist's rap videos on... melanoma. Yes, really.


Teachers have tried a lot of fun and crazy strategies to get students interested and connected to classroom content. I remember a middle school teacher dressing up in Civil War era soldier’s uniform. It got the students’ attention!

In an effort to make science relatable, educators have engaged students with music in the content areas. Teachers in New York were highlighted in a PBS News Hour story earlier this spring. They’re using hip-hop music to teach complex science like natural selection. Wu-Tang Clan’s GZA (sounds like “jizzah”) is releasing a solo album, “Dark Matter,” after teaming up with Columbia University professor Christopher Emdin for content.

The effort is working, inspiring students to literally pick their heads up off the desk and engage in active, high-level learning. It also inspired PBS to host a science rap competition via YouTube submissions. PBS has since released the list of finalists in three categories, Adults (many of whom are teachers), High School, and K-8. Popular themes are the periodic table, elements and biology, including human reproduction, scientifically.

Check out the videos. Sharing them with your students in the upcoming school year could be a fun way to make the content relevant, especially those in which the students are performing. Some of the videos are exceptionally creative and technically advanced. Others involve students singing into their laptop cameras while relaxing in their rooms. All of them are teaching scientific content.

Do you think this would work with your students? If not rap/ hip-hop, then what other genres would be more approachable for your class?

See a sample from GZA rapping about “Dark Matter” in the video below:

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