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Teaching science with music: so many models, so little data

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An overview of different approaches by which content-rich music may be incorporated into science courses.

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Teaching science with music: so many models, so little data

  1. 1. Teaching science with music: so many models, so little data Gregory J. Crowther, Ph.D. University of Washington & South Seattle College & SingAboutScience.org
  2. 2. How did I get here? 1985-1991 Piano lessons and choir 1987 Wrote my first science song 1991-1995 Wrote poem/song parodies for college cross-country team; B.A. in Biology 1996 Met Do Peterson 2002 Ph.D. in Physiology; started teaching 2004 Created science song database; Muscles & Magnets (CD) 2007-2013 Mostly lab research 2014 Back to teaching! Do Peterson / Science Groove
  3. 3. ↑ readiness to learn ↑ absorption of content ↑ recall of content ↑ processing/ integration of content ↑ demonstration of knowledge ↑ Time on Task ↓ stress ↑ enjoyment ↑ in-depth exploration ↑ memorability ↑ channels of content delivery M U S I C+MUSIC How might music aid learning?
  4. 4. Can songs aid STEM learning? Author (Year) Finding C.R.W. VanVoorhis (2002) College students who learned jingles in a statistics class scored better on related test items than students who read definitions. Scores correlated with jingle familiarity. S.M. McCurdy et al. (2008) Certain subgroups of high school students (those taught by experienced instructors and those in small classes) scored higher on food-safety knowledge than control groups following exposure to 9 food- safety songs. K. Smolinksi (2011) 7th grade students who learned the “Cell Song” in chorus scored higher on a biology test than students who did not.
  5. 5. Models of incorporating music into classes 1. Prerecorded song/video from outside source 2. Teacher writes/performs own song 3. Teacher & students perform together 4. Song-based discussion or activity 5. Students write songs Advantages and limitations of each?
  6. 6. Model 1: prerecorded song/video from outside source • Example: Monty Harper, “My Molecular Eye” Monty Harper, Stillwater OK Dr. Wooter Hoff, OSU http://montyharper.bandcamp.com/track/my-molecular-eye
  7. 7. Model 2: teacher writes/performs own song • Example: “Myofibrils” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GC_CUfLP6Pc • Related issue: parodies vs. originals Image:BiologicalScience byScottFreemanetal.
  8. 8. Model 3: teacher & students perform together • Example: “Medulla Oblongata” Medulla oblongata! Medulla oblongata! If you have never learned of its importance, then you oughta! Located in the hindbrain, the rhombencephalon, The medulla oblongata is just caudal to the pons. It regulates parameters such as your rate of breathing, The pressure of your blood, and the rate your heart is beating. Medulla oblongata! Medulla oblongata! Perhaps the lower brainstem is more vital than you thought-a! http://faculty.washington.edu/crowther/Misc/Songs/medulla.shtml
  9. 9. Model 4: song-based discussion or activity • Simple example: “Smooth or Striated?” Smooth or striated? Smooth or striated? Smooth or striated? Smooth or striated? Your biceps’ two parts? The walls of your heart? The walls of your veins? The difference is plain… They are smooth or striated! Smooth or striated! Smooth or striated! Smooth or striated! http://faculty.washington.edu/crowther/Misc/Songs/smooth.shtml
  10. 10. Model 4: song-based discussion or activity • Complex example: Dr. Lodge/DEN video contest Students in Mahoney, MI illustrate the song “Afraid of the Dark.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e44NYisYavc
  11. 11. Model 5: students write songs • Example: Tom McFadden’s Science History Rap Battles “Rosalind Franklin Versus Watson & Crick” by Oakland 7th graders https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=35FwmiPE9tI
  12. 12. Model 5: students write songs • Songwriting as “Writing to Learn” • Example: Poiseuille’s Law of Laminar Flow Figure: Smith & Kampen 1990
  13. 13. Model 5: students write songs • Example: Nernst equation Eion = 2.3 𝑅𝑇 𝑧𝐹 log10( ion extracellular ion intracellular ) For a z (valence) of +1, Eion = 58 mV ∗ log10( ion extracellular ion intracellular ) Find the concentration of ions out and in; Figure out the quotient, and find the log (base 10). To solve for the potential that’s sometimes known as E, You multiply by a constant like 58 mV. If the valence is plus-one (said Walther Nernst), Your calculation’s done (said Walther Nernst)!
  14. 14. Model 5: students write songs • Example: Nernst equation (revised) Eion = 2.3 𝑅𝑇 𝑧𝐹 log10( ion extracellular ion intracellular ) Simplified, Eion = 58 𝑚𝑉 𝑧 ∗ log10( ion extracellular ion intracellular ) Find the concentration of ions out and in; Figure out the quotient, and find the log (base 10). Multiply by a constant like 58 mV; Divide by ion valence to find potential E. At the voltage you have found (says Walther Nernst), There's no flux in or out (says Walther Nernst)!
  15. 15. A unified model of science music?
  16. 16. My compromise: short sing-along jingles Advantages: • Quick to create • Quick to perform • Quick to learn • Students are active • Easy for others to adopt • Relatively painless for students who don’t want to learn science this way Limitations: • Little student creativity • Non-professional music limits engagement & outside adoption
  17. 17. My (other) soapbox issue Music is not just a scaffold on which to hang words! We should use the music to encode/reinforce content!
  18. 18. Encoding content in the music http://faculty.washington.edu/crowther/Misc/Songs/calcium.shtml
  19. 19. image from John W. Kimball (biology-pages.info) [LEADING STRAND] The leading strand elongates toward The moving replication fork; Continuously it extends Out from the primer to the end. [LAGGING STRAND] Okazaki . . . Okazaki . . . Okazaki joined by ligase Okazaki joined by ligase Encoding content in the music http://faculty.washington.edu/crowther/Misc/Songs/okazaki.shtml
  20. 20. Dance: the final frontier? “Na Na Na Na Na Na – sodium can’t get in!” Photo by Trevor Harrison
  21. 21. Toward true kinesthetic movements “Quads & Hamstrings” Let’s kick it! Muscles of the quads. Kick it! Muscles of the hamstrings. Kick it! Can you guess the odds That we’ll remember every one of these damn things? Vastus lateralis, vastus intermedius, Vastus medialis, rectus femoris. Semimembranosus, semitendinosis, Biceps femoris. Now let’s do it as a chorus! Vastus lateralis, vastus intermedius, Vastus medialis, rectus femoris. Semimembranosus, semitendinosis, Biceps femoris. Our teacher will adore us! http://faculty.washington.edu/crowther/Misc/Songs/quads.shtml

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