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Music + STEM

In the summer of 2013 I led a "Music + STEM" course for Upward Bound students. The course focused on the potential role of music in enhancing understanding of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). Here's the syllabus.

Course files/links

my assessment of the 2013 course

UW policy on citing sources and plagiarism

"Polymerase" as performed by DNA's Child (Jennifer, Brittany, & Darlina)

optional extra-credit assignment (due 8-2-13)

final project assignment (due 8-1-13)

handout for 7-23-13 (early rap lyrics)

answer key for quiz #2 (7-18-13)

homework assignment: song analysis (due 7-25-13)

handout for 7-22-13 (muscle metabolism research to music)

slides for 7-17-13 (rap and hip hop)

study guide for open-notes quiz #2

handout for 7-16-13 (early rock song lyrics)

handout for 7-15-13 (engineering muscle cells; song parodies)

handout for 7-11-13 (engineering muscle cells)

slides for 7-10-13 (early rock)

handout for 7-9-13 (writing blues)

handout for 7-8-13 (cells as factories)

slides for 7-2-13 (the blues)

answer key for quiz #1 (7-1-13)

handout for 7-1-13 (amino acid jazz)

handout for 6-27-13 (information transfer in cells)

Human subjects/consent info

parental consent form for posting of "Polymerase" video

student consent/assent form for "Amino Acid Jazz" study

letter to parents/guardians on "Amino Acid Jazz" study

Course rationale

This course will attempt to address several current challenges in STEM education, as summarized in the table below.

COMMON PROBLEM POSSIBLE SOLUTION
Students don't see STEM topics as inherently interesting. Students pursue specific topics to which they have a personal connection (diseases, sports physiology, alternative energy, virtual reality, etc.).
Students find STEM work stressful. Immersion in music boosts students’ moods.
Students find the language of STEM cold, old-fashioned, and unlike that of their cultures. Students “remix” STEM content in musical formats familiar and appealing to them.
STEM instruction is inflexible and instructor-driven. Students use resources as needed in open-ended development and critiques of STEM music.
Students have limited outlets for creativity. Students have the guidance, freedom, and time to create original lyrics and music.
Students are not motivated by solitary exam-based assessment. Students share their work with their peers and communities in person and via social media.
STEM topics are taught as collections of facts. Songs emphasize iterative hypothesis-driven STEM research.