Rapping Science

Science in many ways is art. It is the result of much creativity. Why then do we often stray from the learning of science and its history in classrooms in creative and artistic ways? What could young people learn about science through and especially through the learning of Rap? 

There is much can learn about science from the reading of textbooks, the watching of videos and by participating in experiments. A trip to a museum or science fair can also be inspiring, if you can afford to visit or live near one. But many of these ways are how you or I learnt science. These are not, however THE only ways.

Another is through Rap — the writing of lyrics and the curation of music to tell the story of science in a way cognizant with modern music culture. This is what Christopher Emdin, a professor of education at Columbia calls, Science. 

Rapping Science is a way to bridge the worlds between the learning of science and the creativity in how this learning is expressed by young people through the meshing of modern music culture of Rap and the specifics of science understanding. Rapping provides young people with a multiplicity of creative and artistic talents a creative way to express how they make connections about science, its complexity and its role in their life.

Rapping Science is a reminder that …

Where there is science there is art.
Where there is art there is creativity.
Where there is creativity there is learning. 

Described below are two examples of Rapping Science reported by NPR [1] about students in New York City and the San Francisco Bay Area.

1. The Science Genius B.A.T.T.L.E.S. (Bring Attention to Transforming Teaching, Learning and Engagement in Science) competition.

 ” … is about harvesting the power of urban youth culture,” says Christopher Emdin, a professor of education at Columbia University’s Teacher’s College who created the program. ”Once they are able to incorporate the arts and their culture into the science content, they take it and they run with [it].”

The students researched and wrote rhymes about everything from gravity to evolution. Each school sent one group to the finals, where they were judged by a panel that included Wu-Tang Clan’s GZA.

Source: Adam Cole, NPR, 8th August, 2013.

2. Rapping Conflicts about the History of Science. 

In the San Francisco Bay Area, Tom McFadden also teaches science through rap with a slightly different approach. His students pen rap battles about conflicts from the history of science.

“When you incorporate these stories, it allows you not only to make the scientific information much more fun to digest,” McFadden says. “It allows you to discuss scientific process.”

A group of seventh-graders from Oakland, Calif., worked with McFadden to create a music video about the discovery of DNA’s structure. They nail the science, and also delve into the shady behavior of the scientists involved.

Source: Tom McFaden, YouTube, 7th August 2013.


[1] Adam Cole (2013), Science Rap B.A.T.T.L.E.S Bring Hip-Hop Into The Classroom, NPR, 8th August, 2013.

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