Let’s say you want to to get kids excited about and interested in science. How do you do that? By making them memorize facts with no context? Have them read a journal article or two? Or maybe by using something that they already love, and leveraging it to help them learn about what it really means to be a scientist?
A buddy of mine, Monty Harper, is an award winning children’s singer-songwriter who has made a ton of awesome music about science and scientists. His latest album was called Songs from the Science Frontier and featured tunes inspired by the research of various scientists at my alma mater, Oklahoma State. It is fun, catchy, kids love it (mine does anyway, so I’m working from a n of one, but I’ve seen him play live and it’s like a G-rated version of Rolling Stones concert), and, unlike most kid-friendly music, it’s fun for parents as well.
Monty also runs a library program called Born to Do Science, where he invites scientists to speak to kids about their research, do demonstrations, and the he writes and performs a song about the research. It’s a great time, as I found out when he had me up a while back for a program called “Tangling with Twisters” (you can see the song for that day here).
Between the music and the programs, Monty is doing something pretty unique. He’s taking his talents as a performer and musician, and using them to help spread information about how fun science can be, what it really looks like, and who does it to an audience that is not often targeted by science outreach. Heck, he was even doing this sort of thing for quite a while before They Might Be Giants got into the mix.
If you’ve got kids, I’d really recommend giving his stuff a listen (there’s a lot of great reading songs as well). Who knows, you just might interest your little ones in something cool…and they won’t even realize it.