by Martin Rand III, CNN
(CNN) – Music has often been used to teach kids complicated concepts. Shows like “Schoolhouse Rock” and “Sesame Street” showed that music can help kids digest lessons, whether it’s how a bill makes it through Congress or words that begin with the letter Q.
Now, Columbia University Professor Christopher Emdin is taking that same logic and applying it to high schools in New York City. But rather than Mr. Chips or Elmo leading kids in sing-alongs, enter the Wu-Tang.
Along with Emdin, Wu-Tang member GZA and the founders of the hip-hop lyrics website Rap Genius will announce a program that utilizes hip-hop to teach science in 10 New York City public schools.
“Everything has already been tried,” said Emdin, an assistant professor of science at Columbia’s Teachers College. “We’ve already done a pilot, and it was successful.”
According to Emdin, during the project’s trial period, attendance, interest and graduation rates all rose after hip-hop was introduced into the classroom.
Science has been one of the harder subjects to teach to black and Latino students, who make up 70% of the city’s rolls, according to New York’s Independent Budget Office. The 2009 National Assessment of Education Progress said only 4% of African-American seniors were proficient in sciences, compared with 27% of whites.