Lesson PlansBack to lesson plans archive April 11, 2013
Science Genius: Creating a Rhyme
A rhyming/rap activity for educators and students created by Christopher Emdin and Timothy Jones of Columbia University and Thaisi Da Silva and Allison McCartney of PBS NewsHour Extra.
Music, Science, Arts & Culture, Technology
One class period plus an assignment
In an effort to engage students, legendary rapper GZA has teamed up with Columbia University Teachers College professor Christopher Emdin to use hip-hop to teach everything from biology to physics.
Students will watch the PBS NewsHour report “Songs in the Key of Biology: Students Write Hip-Hop to Learn Science” and have a discussion about using hip-hop music as a tool in the classroom.
Warm up questions:
- What keeps you engaged in the classroom?
- How do you learn best? What techniques do you have for retaining information?
- What do you think could be done in the classroom to make learning science more fun?
- What did you find most interesting about this video?
- Do you think you would learn well in this program? Why or why not?
- Do any of your classes use interdisciplinary techniques to teach you information? If so, how do you feel about them?
Next, students will watch GZA’s science rap:
After students have watched both videos, ask them to work independently and research a science topic they’d like to write a rap about.
Students will need a chorus or hook for the rap they will create. A chorus has been provided for them. This will also help acclimate students to the process of writing and performing his/her rap.
Sometimes in the world it is hard to dream
Based on realities my eyes have seen
Formulate rhymes from life as a thesis
This is what makes me a Science Genius
(Each line is 10 syllables which gives it a natural rhythm. Practicing this chorus, will help students construct their rhymes.)
Some/times/ in/ the/ world/ it/ is/ hard/ to/ dream
Based/ on/ re/a/li/ties/ my/ eyes/ have/ seen
For/mu/late/ rhymes/ from/ life/ as/ a/ the/sis
This/ is/ what/ makes/ me/ a/ Sci/ence/ Ge/nius
After students completed some research on a science topic, have them complete the following steps:
- Write down the first (8) words that come to mind. (These will most likely be science terms you have just learned.)
- After you have completed the first step, write down the first (5) words that come to mind when you think of each of the first (8) words.
- From you list of (40) words identify all the words that may rhyme and that you could use as “end words” in a rhyme sequence.
- Create sentences that connects the first (2) rhyming words.
- Create as as many of these rhyming sentences as possible.
- Review the rhyme when you have exhausted your rhyming words and begin to check for the following:
- Sentence structure and flow (matching syllables in sentences like the example provided in the chorus
- Coherence /logic in the sentences (how connected are they to the science topic you want to get across
- Revise your work for clarity, coherence, and recite it to perfect performance
- Begin getting creative by thinking of analogies and metaphors you can use to get your point across, different (more complex) or rhyme patterns you can use to develop the initial text
- Revise the rap you have crafted
- Continue the entire process till you create a rhyme you are comfortable with performing
Extended Activity: Create Your Own Science Rap
Enter your own science rap or hip-hop verse for a chance to win a PBS NewsHour mug signed by GZA of the Wu-Tang Clan along with a personal video shout-out from the rap legend himself.
How to submit a video:
- Create your science rap video according to the guidelines below and upload it to YouTube.
- Click here to submit your entry in the contest. (You must log in to your YouTube account.)
- Now, choose the video from your channel and submit it as a response to GZA’s YouTube video.
- Videos will be reviewed and approved before they become visible on the PBS NewsHour channel.
- Entries must incorporate at least one scientific topic/concept into 16 bars of verse. (16 bars is the length of a traditional verse, and a bar is made up of beats of four.)
- The main topic/concept of the rap must be referenced in different ways at least three times in the verse.
- Be creative in your expression of the science (E.g.: envision yourself either as somebody involved in the scientific process or an object undergoing the scientific process. Draw connections between your real world experiences and the concepts themselves.)
- Information must be scientifically accurate and verifiable.
- Lyrics must rhyme and incorporate metaphor/analogy.
Entries are due by Friday, May 3, 2013.
If you have questions about the contest or you are having trouble uploading a video, email science reporter Jenny Marder at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Materials You Need
Tooltip of materials
- Access to the Internet
- Writing utensils and notepads
- PBS NewsHour report: Songs in the Key of Biology: Students Write Hip-Hop to Learn Science
- Wu Tang Clan’s GZA Raps About Science
Common Core Standards
Tooltip of standarts
Relevant National Standards:
McRel Compendium of K-12 Standards Addressed:
- Standard 1: Knows the characteristics and uses of computer hardware and operating systems
- Standard 3: Understands the relationships among science, technology, society, and the individual
- Standard 6: Understands the nature and uses of different forms of technology
- Standard 1: Uses the general skills and strategies of the writing process
- Standard 4: Gathers and uses information for research purposes
- Standard 5: Uses the general skills and strategies of the reading process
- Standard 7: Uses reading skills and strategies to understand and interpret a variety of informational texts
- Standard 8: Uses listening and speaking strategies for different purposes
- Standard 10: Understands the characteristics and components of the media
Listening and Speaking
Tooltip of related stories
Tooltip of more video block
Tooltip of RSS content 3
March is Women’s History Month, where we highlight and celebrate the accomplishments of women who…Social IssuesWomen's History Month
In March 2011, a massive earthquake and tsunami hit the island nation of Japan, causing a meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Three years later, experts are trying to assess how recovery efforts in the nuclear-affected area are progressing. Continue readingScienceWorld
By Katie Gould, PBS NewsHour Extra Teacher Resource Producer and Elizabeth Jones, PBS NewsHour Production…historySocial IssueswomenWomen's History Month
The State Department released its annual human rights report last week and concluded that last summer’s chemical weapons attack in Syria, which killed more than 1,400 people, was the worst human rights violation of 2013. Continue readingWorld
By Katie Gould, PBS NewsHour Extra Teacher Resource Producer Introduction Each year the festival of…arthistoryMardi Grasmuseums