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High School Students Drop Hip-Hop Science At Genius Rap Battle
July 2, 2013
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A while back, we told you about a great idea to get high school kids interested in science.

It's an NYC-based program called Science Genius B.A.T.T.L.E.S (Bringing Attention to Transforming, Teaching and Learning Science), and it uses hip-hop (and a little competition) to engage young people in learning.

Over the course of one semester, a group of students aged 14 to 20 from different area high schools worked on raps based on scientific subjects - natural selection, genetics, how materials melt and freeze, and various other topics.

The idea was the brain child of Chris Emdin, Assistant Professor of Science Education at Columbia University, and Rap Genius, a website dedicated to critiquing rap as poetry.

Last week, it was graduation time: a competition was held in NYC, with judges including GZA from the Wu-Tang Clan and Jeremy Dean from Rap Genius, and the students got on stage to drop some science.

Entries were judged for the quality of their scientific information, as well as for cadence and flow.

That's the winning performance at the top of the post - Jabari Johnson from Urban Assembly for the Performing Arts School .

Johnson's rap was about working kinetic energy - it's titled 'Quest for Joulelry' (the track is from Lupe Fiasco's 'Kick Push', if you're wondering).

For winning the competition, Johnson gets a full day of recording time in the studio with GZA, which will come in handy since he's hoping to pursue music after high school.

But he was only one of about 300 students who went through the Science Genius program.

"For many students who are not successful, this [performing hip-hop] is just something that they know how to do," Emdin told WNYC's radiko show SchoolBook.

But not everyone who took part in Science Genius was a natural on the mic.

"All my kids love rap, but some aren't good at it, so they really had to work at it," Tara Ware, a teacher at Validus Preparatory Academy in the Bronx, told the New York Times. "It took more time to write a rap than to write a three-page paper."

To get a feel for the many incredible raps that the students created over the course of the program, check out all the finalists in the video below:

As for what's next, the team behind the program hopes to carry it on in the coming years, and get even more students involved.

"We're actually meeting this week to start editing our entire program to be better and more scalable for next year," Nicole Otero of Rap Genius told Wired. "We want to make the Science Genius initiative into a curriculum that can be taught to teachers/principals/etc. so that the entire idea is scalable."

Via Wired


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