Rapping about the scientific possibilities of light

St Ambrose Catholic Primary Concord West students Zara Tullipan and Mia Gelonesi rehearse their light-themed song. Photo: Gene Ramirez

St Ambrose Catholic Primary Concord West students Zara Tullipan and Mia Gelonesi rehearse their light-themed song. Photo: Gene Ramirez

At St Ambrose Catholic Primary School Concord West Stage 3 students have been turning their scientific knowledge on light into rap songs.

During Term 2, the Years 5 and 6 students studied a unit of work in Science called Light in the Service of Humanity. For four weeks they were immersed in the world of light, learning how nothing can travel faster than the speed of light, about the biggest star in the universe called UY Scuti, about light pollution caused by big cities, how the length of daylight tells some animals when its time to start migrating, how house flies can see infra-red light and bees use the positon of the sun to navigate.  Together the students uncovered a mountain of information on the subject of light which they then had the challenge of turning into a rap song.

Stage 3 teacher and Science Coordinator Annie Lord said ending the unit of work with developing a rap meant the students had to synthesise all the information they had learnt about light.

To help them do this CaSPA Inner Western Region Coordinator John Panuccio ran workshops on writing lyrics for raps and using the app Garage Band to produce the music. The students learnt about the importance of choosing words that rhymed and they were encouraged to tap out their lyrics to ensure the words matched the beat. Working in pairs or groups they shared their lyrics on Google drive which ensured they didn’t duplicate the same information about light.

“The point of a rap is having very focused lyrics,” said John Panuccio, “so we went through a process of working out which words could be deleted without losing the meaning.”

Stage 3 student Sienna Tierney said writing the lyrics for the rap was a bit like writing a poem as the words had to rhyme. She enjoyed learning how to use Garage Band and expressing the lyrics through a choice of beats and instruments to convey the feeling of light.

Classmates’ Bailun Pura and Angelo Longo said coming up with the lyrics involved a lot of brainstorming and they had to think about the beat when they were writing. “It was fun and educational at the same time as we learnt things about light and about making music,” said Bailun.

Kayliah Simpson and Kayla Low collaborated on a rap on bioluminescent animals such as anglerfish, glow worms and jelly fish that make their own light and glow in the dark. Kayliah said it was fun learning different things about light and good to work with people she had never worked before.

“Learning how to use the computer properly and about Garage Band has been great and it was fun to write about all the facts I learnt about during Science.”

After completing their raps a group of seven students worked with John Panuccio to further develop the music, working on loops, different beats, and the beginning, middle and end. They then recorded it and performed it to the school.

John Panuccio said the final product is one of those songs that sticks in the students’ heads and so all the things they have learnt about light with stay with them through the song.

Annie Lord said the project definitely engaged the students with real thinking about the concepts of light and writing the rap helped them to verbalise their understanding in a totally different way.

She said a number of her students were really interested in Science but didn’t know how to explain it. “They have reacted very well to this approach and have been able to express their learnings in words, music, research and technology making it a really meaningful and integrated task.  Having a session with Simon Crook from Crooked Science on light also enriched their study of this topic and added another level to their learning and knowledge.”

This project was filmed by Tim Butt, a teacher from St Mary’s Catholic Primary North Sydney and will be available in a high quality video for professional learning for other teachers.

A rap on light pollution

For Zara Tullipan and Mia Gelonesi, writing their rap on involved significant editing to reduce the number of words but still maintain the meaning and convey information about light pollution. Here are their lyrics:

Lyrics on light. Photo: Gene Ramirez“Think bright when you turn on the light, 

When you’re in the city it’s a pity,

Light pollution has a solution,

It effects hibernation and migration.

Be warned, beware it will effect our nation.”


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