Drip Drop! - Engaging Youth in Learning Science

Drip Drop! - Engaging Youth in Learning Science

Drip Drop! Music Video Explores Climate Change for K-12When I was young (and even today), I enjoyed rock music (think Rush, Pink Floyd, Yes). Now, I can’t get enough classical music (think Mozart, Sibelius, Bach). But most interesting music - whether it’s rock, classical or hip-hop has one thing in common: a catchy tune that sticks in your head and keeps you humming!

This is certainly the case with Drip Drop! a music video that the UCAR Center for Science Education developed along with KidTribe (http://www.kidtribe.com/). The science content for the video was inspired by a Teaching Box developed by Lisa Gardiner on Climate and Water. KidTribe Founder and CEO Kellee McQuinn and her team of creative collaborators developed this video to engage today’s youth in the topic of climate and water that is of critical importance. The result is a lively and engaging production that shows exuberant kids illustrating important scientific ideas through music, dance, and fabulous set design. But how did this idea get it’s start?

I first met Kellee when she was working on a project for NASA’s Discovery Program. Shari Asplund, Education Program Manager from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, worked with Kellee to develop an idea called Space School Musical (http://discovery.nasa.gov/musical/index.cfml). This musical was designed to help kids learn more about the solar system and the major and minor bodies within it. I must admit when I first heard the early drafts, I was skeptical. It just wasn’t my style (see notes above). However, once it was completed, I had the chance of seeing Kellee work with a group of students she had never met to perform the musical in front of hundreds of people at Petco Park in San Diego for a Science and Engineering Festival. I was amazed that not only were the students having fun performing it, but the crowd loved it. Following this, we had the musical showing on a screen at a festival called STEMapalooza in Denver and again I was amazed that kids would walk by our booth and stop and come back to watch the production. Something was going on here.

As soon as I came to UCAR, Shari contacted me with an idea to produce a music video about Earth science and sent me the results from an independent evaluation[1] conducted by Magnolia Consulting for Space School Musical. Over the course of the evaluation study, evaluators received 230 student surveys from five sites that volunteered to collect student data. Approximately 60% of student survey participants were female and 40% were male. Student survey participants were mostly in grades 3–5 (n = 106), followed by grades 6–8 (n = 35), K-2 (n = 21), and grades 9–10 (n = 7). Findings showed that Space School Musical had a positive impact on student interest and engagement in space science. The majority of students (78% to 92%) reported higher levels of science interest and engagement after participating in the musical. Additionally, a large percentage of students (45% to 58%) mentioned that they were more interested in science careers after the musical. Facilitators also shared that students had a growing interest in learning more about science, and showed high levels of engagement in the program’s songs and music videos.

A good friend once said “you can’t teach ‘em if you don’t reach ‘em.[2]”  That really struck me. UCAR has a tremendous amount of science resources intended to teach people of all ages about the atmospheric and related science. We have developed excellent exhibits, lessons, interactive simulations, educational videos, and internship programs intended to teach. Drip Drop! is intended to reach, engage, and invite a conversation with youth who might not otherwise pay attention. Take a look and listen to the music video and let me know what you think! 

[1] Big Bang! An Evaluation of NASA’s Space School Musical Magnolia Consulting, LLC, January 31, 2014

[2] Ben Wentworth