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Science to a riddim - JN Foundation to adopt US-based rap project

Published:Tuesday | February 21, 2017 | 12:00 AMKimberley Small
Wayne Marshall
Ding Dong and his Ravers Clavers dancers in performance

On Wednesday, February 22, the JN Foundation will launch their next educational project, Science Genius Jamaica, which is inspired by the work of Professor Christopher Emdin of Teacher's College, Columbia University, New York.

"It's a movement to engage students around science and what Emdin uses is hip-hop culture and music to pull them in and make them want to be more involved," Dr Renee Rattray, director of education programmes for JN Foundation, told The Gleaner.

The launch will take place at The Knutsford Court Hotel, New Kingston.

Science Genius Jamaica, in collaboration with Emdin, intends to introduce the concept in local schools using dancehall and reggae to engage students around science focused content.




"Science is at the base of everything and not enough is being done in that area. Not enough students are choosing science for CSEC," Rattray said. Dancehall performers Tifa and Wayne Marshall, with assistance from Bugle and Ding Dong will provide mentorship. "The mentors will be there to inspire and challenge them, to show them that it's cool to be smart, it's cool to be a geek," Rattray continued.

Science Genius began four years ago and is the creation of Emdin, author of Urban Science Education for the Hip-Hop Generation, and Gary Grice, more famously known as GZA, a founding member of the legendary rap group, WuTang Clan. In 2012, The New York Times posted about the project's pilot, stating that the men discovered a shared interest, with GZA bringing science into hip-hop and Emdin bringing hip-hop into the classroom.

Emdin has contributed to The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. He is also a regular contributor to Al Jazeera and The Huffington Post and has been featured on major international news networks like CNN, PBS and ABC.

The professor and rap legend, partnered with popular rap lyric archive, to develop Science Genius BATTLES, which engages the student through the creation of rap lyrics.

"A hip-hop cipher is the perfect pedagogical moment, where someone's at the helm of a conversation and then one person stops and another picks up," Emdin said in his 2012 interview with The New York Times. "There's equal turns at talking. When somebody has a great line, the whole audience makes a 'whoo', which is positive reinforcement. All of those things that are happening in the hip-hop cipher are what should happen in an ideal classroom."