Half Short, Twice Strong – Science Genius Continues

Last month Science Genius was officially launched at Teachers’ College in New York City.  While the mainstream press didn’t latch onto it like the press that prompted my previous post on the project, there is a lot of related video.

First, here’s video of the launch event for Science Genius, where 10 schools in the city will have the chance to learn science through students writing raps about science concepts and performing them for their peers.

The major forces behind the project are Christopher Emdin, science education professor at Teachers’ College, and GZA, a founder of the Wu Tang Clan who is working on a science-inspired rap album.  Expect that later this year.  At the event, GZA explained his interest in the program, and how he feels telling compelling stories in rap lyrics can help present scientific concepts.

“My role in the process is to encourage students to compose creative writing, not just through rhyme, but through a metaphoric narrative approach to animate the science concepts so that the material can be digested by students in a interdisciplinary way. The rhymes are a starting point to introduce this technique of seeing science in a new way, a new context.  I challenge students to not be too literal and write compelling stories. Make it “half short, twice strong.” Light as an atom to where it doesn’t trouble the soul of the listener, but heavy as a neutron star to where it’s mind boggling.”

For a deeper dive into how both Emdin and GZA approach hip-hop science education, check out this December 2012 edition of Neil deGrasse Tyson’s StarTalk Radio show.  In it, Tyson and his co-host, Chuck Nice, talk with Emdin and include clips of Tyson’s interview with GZA.  If you ever wondered why Tyson is so good when he stops by The Daily Show or The Colbert Report, watching him here should help explain it, or extend your befuddlement.

GZA’s album will be called Dark Matter, and you may well see additional promotion for Science Genius once the album is released later this year.  Either way, I’ll have something to post about it.


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