Science Genius Jamaica (SGJ) is a collaboration between JN Foundation and Colombia (USA) Professor Christopher Emdin – pioneer behind Science Genius. Executed under the Foundation’s Education Programmes, SGJ is designed to get high school students and teachers excited about science and increase the number of students succeeding in the area.Where Science Genius uses Hip-Hop music in the US, Science Genius Jamaica will use dancehall music to help Jamaican teachers and students discover and explore the wonders of science. It is expected that this will create an ideal atmosphere to foster ‘science mindedness’.
With the aid of popular and seasoned dancehall toasters 11 exuberant, energetic and zealous high school science teachers were trained to use the principles associated with composing Dancehall lyrics to engage students and improve student interaction in the pilot phase of the project (see Project Guidelines). The project was introduced to the 11 classrooms over two terms (Easter and Summer). The project team was tasked with observing, guiding and documenting the reaction of students and teachers as SGJ classroom interaction methods were implemented. The product would be increased engagement of students in science classes and songs that coherently expressed science topics they learnt.
Some of the concepts covered in these writing sessions included:
• Confidence and ego;
• Expressing one’s experiences and observations in a sequential and coherent manner;
• Using jargons unique to the target community for appeal;
• Seeking acceptance among peers and larger community;
• Contention and critique;
• Pushing boundaries, exploring the unknown and taboo
A key outcome of this initiative is the ability of the students to compose songs about science topics and focus areas using dancehall and other related pop culture forms. From this they have garnered an enhanced appreciation for science and created new mechanisms for retaining such lessons.The culmination of the project included a competition (Competition Guidelines) where these songs were performed at the final B.A.T.T.L.E.S. – Bring Attention to Transforming Teaching, Learning and Engagement in Science, on July 6, 2017.Congrats to Solo winner Jabeur Martinez from Cedric Titus High, and Group winners May Day High with a trio performing their scientific hit “I yey”.