Today I chatted to Tom McFadden, who’s come all the way from the most-likely-to-be-warmer-than-here California as a guest speaker for the SciFest. He was roped in though the Science Communication network, that has its tentacles everywhere, after applying for the Master of Science Communication programme for 2011. (Go Science Communication!)
Tom’s been making rap songs and videos about science for the past couple of years, in collaboration with his mates back in the USA, not all of whom are scientists, just like-minded people who are passionate about creative education. The idea came from finding a way of making biology accessible to undergraduate students that he was teaching, and has taken off from there. From creating videos to supplement homework for his students, he has made around 20 videos (YouTube them!) that have really taken off with both university and high school students.
Now Tom doesn’t see himself as a rapper per se, since there are many other musical paths to choose from but rap is very prevalent in the States. Pretty much everyone he knew at school has recorded at least one rap song. Of course, rap is something that is a bit of a novelty here (so I have noticed) with many media outlets almost overemphasising the ‘rap’ word in the stories about Tom, so I reckon he should tap into the hip hop market for success in New Zealand. 🙂
Rather than telling people that “science is cool”, Tom is forging a path communicating science (mostly biology) in a way that is applicable to many people. To him, science is not ‘a dude putting two chemicals together and making an explosion’ (as he was informed once) but being curious about the natural world. Learning and expanding scientific knowledge helps to make our planet a better place.
Tom is running workshops for kids this week, where they choose a subject and create a rap about it. This is gearing towards a ‘Science Idol’, which will be held during the Fun & Food Fiesta at the Edgar Centre on Sunday. You can also check him out at Wall Street on Friday!
Photo is courtesy of Strategy First