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Wu-Tang Clan Member Becomes Teacher

Rapper uses power of hip hop to teach students about science

While we may spend the better parts of our day manufacturing the world’s best portable speaker for music lovers the world over to enjoy, we still like to check in on what’s going on with the industry-side of the music world every now and then. Here’s a story that I came across that was so out there—and so cool—that I just had to share it with the Boombotix fans: Wu-Tang clan member GZA will soon be taking his hip hop talents and applying them to the classroom to teach students about science.

Wu-Tang GZA
^Yes, this guy^

He will be working with Columbia Professor Christopher Emdin, who is openly a huge fan of GZA, Wu-Tang, and the whole hip hop community in general, as well as lyrics website Rap Genius to launch a program in New York with the goal of using rap and the process of how to become a good rapper to turn science students into good science students.

Christopher Emdin speaks to students in class

Emdin and GZA met this past summer at a radio show hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect – GZA had just finished a series of meetings with physicists at Harvard and MIT, getting ideas for his upcoming solo album about the galaxy (seriously), and Emdin was trying to figure out a way to get students more involved and interested in science.

The two started talking about science and education, specifically why science classes were failing to engage many African American and Latino students who, altogether, make up close to 70% of New York City’s student body. After a couple of follow-up conversations, they came up with this ambitious project.

Speaking to some of the thinking behind it, Professor Emdin told the New York Times that he believes teaching can be more effective when the teacher is able to get the students to stand up and be involved:

Kids relate best when they’re standing up. The teacher can measure engagement by the hand gestures and head bobs. And when the last kid couldn’t finish his verse, everybody gave him encouragement. In a traditional school, he’d have failed. We need to expand the notion of what success is.

GZA meanwhile sees tremendous potential behind the project, telling the New York Times: You never know, this could turn into something in the future as big as the spelling bee.

The following’s a video that Professor Emdin put together about the project and I’m not going to lie, it’s hard to not be inspired after watching it:

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