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Getting kids interested in science by showing that it can be fun

Getting kids interested in science is a bit of a challenge around New Zealand, but transplanted American Tom McFadden’s doing his best to up the excitement.

The Californian, a Stanford biology lecturer in a former life, is currently studying a Masters in Science Communication at Otago University, and recently made a Fullbright Scholar sponsored trip around a number of NZ schools under the persona, Rhymebosome.

This is his ‘science rapper’ moniker, where a beat plus rhyming words provides children with another view of how things work. Here’s a Youtube video of him in action.

“Part of the purpose is to reinvigorate, not replace the current science education,” says McFadden. “It also helps to get teachers to think about other creative ways they can put across science.”

McFadden’s also the fresh young face promoting the New Zealand International Science Festival’s ‘Science Idol’ music video competition.

He’s using the second year of his study to research the questions:

1. The efficacy (or effectiveness) of a music based video (for science)
2. Authorship – is it better to watch or make your own hip-hop song

As a test in action, McFadden’s an interesting example of someone finding himself at a certain time and place.

“I suddenly found myself being known as the Science Rapper,” he says.

“It has given me the opportunity to operationalise and test some of that thinking for the Master’s thesis.