Wu-Tang Clan has always been for the children, but at least one of its members is for the students, too. The Genius/GZA has teamed with Columbia University professor Christopher Emdin to create Science Genius BATTLES, a program that uses Hip-Hop to teach science in New York City schools.
Last night (December 12th), GZA spoke to a crowd of educators and students assembled at Columbia Teachers College about the program, reports DNAinfo. "I am here not as a teacher, nor expert, not Genius, but I'm here as a science enthusiast who wants to inspire New York City public high school students to get excited about biology, chemistry and physics," said GZA.
The pilot program, spearheaded by Emdin, who wrote a book titled Urban Science Education for the Hip-Hop Generation, will be launching in 10 schools where students traditionally have not done well in the sciences. In the program, which also involves Rap Genius, students battle each other with scientifically inspired rhymes. Instead of papers, students will write rhymes which will be judged by GZA and the best wil be posted on Rap Genius, reports the New York Times. The schools partaking in the program are Bronx Compass, Ellis Preparatory Academy, The Marie Curie School, Park East High School, Hillside Arts, Brooklyn Community Arts and Media, August Martin High, Validus Prep, Urban Assembly School for the Performing Arts and Arts and Media Prep.
The Brooklyn born rapper kicked a rhyme at last night's launch. ""Everything we see around us: the sun, the moon, the stars, the millions of worlds that astound us," GZA rapped. "The universe in size is hard to fathom. It was composed in a region small as a single atom."
GZA's interest in the sciences has always crept into his music and will particularly in his next album, titled Dark Matter, after working with MIT professors to gleam scientific facts to add to his bars. "I was interested in science from a very early age but not to the point where I wanted to go to school and study and be a physicist," GZA told The Fader earlier this year. “Just learning things about the stars and the planets, the workings of the atoms and molecules …knowing that we're part of this whole universal structure. It's all fascinating. It's something to write about."
The Science Genius BATTLES is squarely aimed fostering enthusiasm in African-America and Latino students to learn about the sciences. Here's hoping this program gets a fair shot. Hip-Hop tradionally been used to both entertain and educate.
Check out photos from last night's launch and Emdin in the classroom in the gallery.