Teaching Science with Hip Hop

By Candace Kelley

Physics and hip hop. According to Honeywell and NASA, it’s the perfect way for middle school students in New Jersey to learn about physics. After studying where the U.S. ranked in the world in science and math, Honeywell and NASA teamed up and to create the program “Forces in Motion.”

“Honeywell and NASA have looked at the research recently from the National Science Board and we recognize that we are still lagging at 26th in the world,” said Honeywell Hometown Solutions Director Kerry Kennedy.

Through hip hop, students learn Newton’s Universal Law of Gravity and Three Laws of Motion. Schools in Livingston, Morris Plains, Newark and Hillsborough all got up close and personal with scientific demonstrations. So far, more than 400,000 students in 48 states as well as Mexico and Canada have seen the show since its creation in 2004. This year, the program’s focus is to connect basic laws of physics to potential science and engineering careers in real life.

“Honeywell is relying on the next generation of science and engineers,” Kennedy said.

During each performance, students, teachers and administrators get on stage and interact with the actors to experience Newton’s laws of motion first hand.

Teachers at the schools received lesson plans and students were directed online to NASA-developed links to learn more about how physics and engineering connects to their everyday lives.

“They are so happy to have a national science standard resource to go to online and be able to continue to use it after the show to continue to inspire these students,” Kennedy said.

And what’s key for the creators of the program is that the information the students learn in the presentation sticks. Honeywell interviews teachers and administrators months after the show.

“They are seeing in turn higher grades in their physics classes so the teachers couldn’t be happier,” said Kennedy.

And creators of the program hope to make even more teachers and students happy by taking this hip hop presentation to any school that wants to put a little step in how they teach science.

“We have a waiting list of schools that want to have this concert come to their school,” Kennedy said.

Honeywell says that they want students to become the next generation of engineers, but that a student’s interest has to be captured first — and through this program they are doing just that.