By Nick Miller
Students from Redwood High School in Redwood City, California collaborated with teacher/musician Tom McFadden to make a rap music video that teaches a science lesson.
The video is called "One Bottle At A Time (Save The Fishes)," and touches on many common environmental themes, like polluted creeks, wasted water, littering, and carbon footprints. The students rewrote the lyrics to two songs: "Blow The Whistle," by Too Short and "No Church In The Wild," by Kanye West and Jay-Z. The project was part of the Redwood Environmental Academy of Leadership (REAL) at Redwood High.
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Gabriel Mena, a student in the REAL program, helped write the lyrics for the song. He said that incorporating music into science is a good idea and can increase peoples’ knowledge. “Our message is about water conservation. Not many people would spread that through a rap song,” said Mena.
Mena explained that he thinks rapping about science is like another door for people to understand and remember the material as opposed to it being taught in a classroom.
Tom McFadden, science rapper and former teacher, has been a fan of science and hip hop almost all his life, but combining the two is his specialty. “All the subject matter that you have been thinking about becomes stuck in your head and maybe everytime when you hear Too Short on the radio you might think about the water conservation song,” said McFadden. (I know after I heard this song it was stuck in my head all day.)
McFadden thinks that creative projects like "Save The Fishes" can help students process everything they have been learning. Also, students who like music can be more engaged in a science topic like this one. “So I think teachers should figure out -- whatever it is that makes them excited -- they should bring it into the classroom because it can get everyone one else excited,”said McFadden.
Rap can be an outlet for students to learn. And the video gave the students a chance to get an educational message across. “I think that rap and hip hop are powerful and they give young people a voice,” said McFadden.