Thursday, June 10, 2010

Rappers find their elements

Does studying the periodic table of elements weigh you down? Then lighten up and think of it as a rap song. That’s what 10th grade students at Dekalb Early College Academy did, and the result (see video above) puts the “cred” in chemistry.

“Everyone who worked on it had a great time,” says Shannon Thorne-Brackett, the students’ physical science teacher. Thorne-Brackett was a 2009-2010 fellow of PRISM, a collaboration of Emory and Atlanta area schools. The program fosters scientific literacy in public school students using problem-based learning (PBL) and other innovative teaching strategies.

PRISM gave Thorne-Brackett license to open up the curriculum to songs, videos, poetry, drawings and other projects not normally associated with the physical sciences. “I let each student tap into their own way of learning,” she says. “It was scary, because we have ECOTs (end of course tests). Naturally, you just want to lecture the students about what they need to know to score well.”

Her efforts paid off. At the end of the Spring semester, 100 percent of Thorne-Brackett’s students passed the physical science ECOT, and 87 percent of them scored a 90 or above. “All of the students were fully engaged, and I had fun, too,” she says.

Thorne-Brackett was among the many faculty at Dekalb Early College Academy to lose their jobs to budget cuts recently. “I’m going to miss the kids a lot,” says Thorne-Brackett. Luckily, she will be taking her PBL skills to a new position, at Arabia Mountain High School.

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  1. I love this song! These kids are so talented. Great story!

  2. Phenomenal job Professor Thorne-Brackett and students of DeKalb Early College Academy. Professor Thorne-Brackett has always taught with excellency regardless of educational setting. Arabia Mountain High School, Emory University, Atlanta School Districts and secondary science educators at large have a precious jewel. Professor Thorne-Brackett offers students exceptional 21st century learning with physics and potential to create.

    S. B. Williams, BsEd,MBA