Science and Hip-Hop Join Forces

Science is a subject that, for all its awesomeness, often turns off students. That's tragic because pretty much everything in life that's worth obsessing about has some science at its core. So it's always encouraging to see someone reaching out to students with new and exciting methods of fostering scientific zeal.

As she recounts in a recent LiveScience article, Nalini M. Nadkarni happened on the notion of combining science with hip-hop while teaching a forest ecology class at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash. During a field trip through the state's temperate rain forests, she overheard a student's eco-inspired freestyle rap and decided music might be a great way of connecting with urban schoolchildren.

An alliance was formed. With the help of hip-hop artist C.A.U.T.I.O.N. (good luck figuring out that acronym), Nalini kicked off her National Science Foundation-funded "Sound Science" program. They introduced groups of 13-year-olds to various examples of nature and helped them write and perform 12 raps based on what they learned. According to Nalini, 90 percent of the students described this encounter with the scientific world as "fun."

Of course, no one is advocating the widespread synthesis of, say, old school rap and microbiology (seriously, what rhymes with deoxyribose?), but it's still a great example of figuring out what kids gravitate toward and using what they love as a teaching method. Let us break it down for you at How Hip-Hop Works How Public Schools Work How Rainforests Work How the Scientific Method Works

About the Author: Robert Lamb spent his childhood reading books and staring into the woods — first in Newfoundland, Canada and then in rural Tennessee. There was also a long stretch in which he was terrified of alien abduction. He earned a degree in creative writing. He taught high school and then attended journalism school. He wrote for the smallest of small-town newspapers before finally becoming a full-time science writer and podcaster. He’s currently a senior writer at HowStuffWorks and has co-hosted the science podcast Stuff to Blow Your Mind since its inception in 2010. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling with his wife Bonnie, discussing dinosaurs with his son Bastian and crafting the occasional work of fiction.