Science songs for musical scientists!


Image: Shutterstock/Monkey Business Images

Teachers are in constant search of innovative methodologies or tools that can help them make their lessons fun and compelling while making students excited to learn sciences. A popular way to do so has been that of mixing STEM subjects with other fields of study. For instance, STEAM refers to the immersion of arts subjects in science and technology lessons. This can be done through introducing, among others, design principles, drawing and photography activities or music tasks in order to encourage creative solutions. For instance, tools like the MS Songsmith software can create songs through the selection of chords according to the notes you sing, using a system of algorithms. Talk about integration of music and math!

However, songs can also be introduced in the classroom as a way to explain scientific concepts that would normally be taught through study books but with a twist and in a fun way. Thus, in this blog post, we will share a list of songs that explain scientific concepts in a compelling way.

  • Have you ever heard of an alternative rock band called “They might be giants”? Their 1993 EP included the song called “Why does the sun shine?” (or as its alternative title reads, “The Sun Is a Mass of Incandescent Gas”) where they indeed answered the title’s inquiry. A fun fact is that the song in question is a cover and updated version of Tom Glazer’s 1959 album, Space Songs. Also, the band released it again in 2009 while correcting some inaccurate facts from the original version. Can you spot the changes?
  • One of my favorite humorists growing up was Tom Lehrer. Lehrer was an American mathematician best known for being a songwriter and singer and a humorist and especially for his satirical political songs. Even so, he also recorded songs on scientific topics, being “The elements” one of his most popular. In it, he recites all the chemical elements discovered up to that point in time. Listening to this in 2016, could you add the missing ones? Don’t worry, we can also help you through this updated version.
  • One of the most popular shows on TV at the moment is that of “the Big-Bang Theory”. The show originally follows two geeky physicists from Pasadena (California) working at the California Institute of Technology. As catchy as the show is, the producers managed to incorporate a show theme song that was equally catchy while tracing about 14 billion years of human existence in a few minutes. As it starts: “Our whole universe was in a hot dense state, then nearly fourteen billion years ago expansion started. Wait, the earth began to cool, the autotrophs began to drool, Neanderthals developed tools, we built a wall (we built the pyramids)” Do you want to sing along?
  • The last recommendation in this list will a YouTube video gone semi-viral, taken straight from the acapallescience2 channel. Using the “All about that base” melody, this acapella version gives us some knowledge on bases and acids that will mesmerize any musical chemist. Yes, it pretty clear, he ain’t no science fool. Check it out!

Written by: Marina Jiménez Iglesias, Project Officer, European Schoolnet. 

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