Tuesday, June 25, 2013

From RapGenius to Science Genius

High school students performing in the Science Genius contest

On Friday, June 21st, I caught the Final Battle for the Science Genius contest. Representatives from 10 high schools in New York City competed for the group or individual with the best raps about science-related topics.  The students' rap lyrics were posted on RapGenius, and the project represented a really engaging way of getting young people interested in science and education in general.

The project was the brainchild of Columbia professor Christopher Emdin. He received assistance from a range of volunteers and contributors, including Wu Tang's GZA, who served as one of the faces of the program, and the folks at RapGenius, providing help with promotion, logistics, and space on their site.

I was made aware of the project by RapGenius education czar Jeremy Dean. He knew I would be in the city on that Friday and said that I should consider stopping by the contest. I'm so glad I took him up on the invitation.

The event took place in an auditorium on the campus of Columbia's Teachers College, and let me tell you, the place was buzzing with excitement as the high school students got prepared to listen to raps...about science! The young folks in the audience yelled and shouted their approval for groups, and ooed and ahhed when performers dropped especially thoughtful, science-related rhymes.

So that everyone could keep up, the organizers arranged to have a large screen displaying the rappers' lyrics posted on RapGenius in the background. The appearance of the lyrics with break-downs during the course of performances made for an even more illuminating experience. The young performers apparently had arrived to the project with rap skills, and now they were showcasing the outcomes of lessons on physics, astronomy, biology, and geology. 

Yes, geology, as one of the high students rapped: "If we talkin' rocks then let's talk metallic / Metamorphic, cementation, and compaction."

A Notebook on RapGenius

No comments: