(AllHipHop News) How can school systems teach the complexities of science to teenagers who would rather be jacked into their MP3 players than listen to a lesson about chemistry? One New York City based youth program may have found a way by combining Hip Hop and science together.
Columbia University assistant professor of science education Chris Emdin, Wutang Clan member GZA, and the website Rap Genius teamed up to create Science Genius. The experimental pilot program serviced 300 students from 9 New York City public high schools this past semester by using Hip Hop to teach science.
The program is a part of Emdin’s “reality pedagogy” method of reaching out to urban students through a culture they understand – Hip Hop. According to Emdin, the Hip Hop cypher is an ideal structure to develop educational success.
“A Hip Hop cypher is the perfect pedagogical moment, where someone’s at the helm of a conversation, and then one person stops and another picks up,” Emdin told the New York Times last November. “When somebody has a great line, the whole audience makes a ‘whoo,’ which is positive reinforcement… All of those things that are happening in the Hip Hop cypher are what should happen in an ideal classroom.”
Recently, Science Genius enhanced the concept of the friendly rap battle from use in the classroom to a city-wide competition. On June 21st, the top students from the participating schools gathered at Teachers College at Columbia University for the Science Genius B.A.T.T.L.E.S. (Bringing Attention to Transforming Teaching, Learning and Engagement in Science).
With rhymes about everything from Charles Darwin to kinetic energy the high schoolers showed their skills on the mic and their knowledge of science.
Jabari Johnson from Harlem’s Urban Assembly for the Performing Arts High School took home the top prize. The senior’s rap about energy won him a full day at the Museum of Natural History and time at a recording studio with battle judge GZA.
The Science Genius program appears to have been a success. Emdin claims that the students that used Hip Hop in the classroom outperformed the ones who did not, and the students themselves seem to be fans of the program.
“We all hated our science class before,” said Victoria Richardson, one of the participants. “Now I can’t wait till Friday to go to science class.”
Watch Jabari Johnson’s winning performance from the Science Genius B.A.T.T.L.E.S. and footage of the full competition below.