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The Tunes of Science

Danielle Lee, a postdoc at Oklahoma State University who also blogs at Urban Scientist, tells NPR that hip-hop can be used to engage students of color in science, technology, engineering, and math.

While Lee notes that such efforts can fall flat if they co-opt hip-hop or rap rather than connect the song to what the students are learning.

"I hear something in [the song] that reminds me of lessons that I've learned in my biology classes or that I teach to my students," Lee says to Celeste Headlee from NPR News' Tell Me More. "And I just simply use those lessons as a springboard."

For example, Lee says the song "I Got It from My Mama" has helped her teach students the difference between inheritance and heritability in genetics.

"And so by listening to the lyrics of the song, we then deconstruct it to go, 'OK, you know, how does she get it from her mama?' ... What are the rules of inheritance and heritability of how we inherit certain physical traits?" Lee says, adding that "it gets us into topics, you know, that's personally interesting and relevant to students."