Combining science, history, music, and video is a powerful educational experience. When students are given the tools to create a video that is viewed around the world, it can be life-changing.
From January through April I'm working at five inner-city schools in the Bay Area, helping students create entertaining, accurate, and professional music videos that explore important moments in scientific history. Once completed, these videos will be made available to students and teachers to enliven science education around the world.
Topics & Schools:
- "Is Pluto a planet?" - KIPP Heartwood (San Jose)
- "Rosalind Franklin vs. Watson & Crick" - KIPP Bridge (Oakland)
- "Tycho Brahe vs. Johannes Kepler" - San Jose Community School
- "Alfred Wegener vs. 'The Fixists'" - Mathson Middle (San Jose)
- "Black Plague vs. Yellow Fever" - SUMMIT San Jose
How it works:
At each school, kids sign up to take part in the project. We meet once a week - either after school, at lunch, or during science class. I lead workshops covering each new topic or skill, including: science review, historical context, rhyming, lyric-writing, audio production, video production. Although the kids will be exposed to the technical sides of audio and video production, the final music video will be shot and edited by professionals in order to make a product that can reach as large an audience as possible. Some students have decided to make "making the video" documentaries about the process.
This project is partially funded by a generous Social Innovation grant from Hewlett Packard and the Silicon Valley Education Foundation. However, that grant only covers production costs for one of the schools. The goal of this Kickstarter campaign is to fund the video budgets for the rest of the schools and to pay for my transportation costs as I traverse the Bay making science raps (I'm based in San Francisco).
- Video Production - $10,000 for 4 music videos ($2,500 a piece). This includes hiring filmmakers to shoot, camera rental, green screen, lighting rental, and three days of editing.
- My transport during workshops - $1,000 I'm living in San Francisco but working each day in either Oakland or San Jose. I wind up spending about $62.50 on gas a week, and I am working with these schools for four months.
- Supplemental Audio Budget - $300 Our producer back in Sacramento has generously offered to make five beats and mix all of the songs. But he's doing it for a very cheap rate and I want to be able to give him a bonus for his hard work.
- Kickstarter Fee - $565 Kickstarter will take 5% of the total
Any additional funds raised by this campaign will go to:
- Equipment Purchase - I'd love to be able to invest in camera, lighting, and production equipment to make more videos like this at a cheaper rate. This would significantly lower the cost of video production when working with schools in the future.
- Video Special Effects - The students already have some big dreams for things they want to have happen during the videos. By increasing our special effects budget, we can make those dreams come true.
Are you a talented videographer wanting to get involved?
This project will require multiple videographers because there are so many projects. If you're in the Bay Area, available in April and would be interested in shooting, editing, helping with green screen, or doing special effects on one of the videos, please get in touch! firstname.lastname@example.org
Previous Science Songs with Kids:
- "One Bottle at a Time (Save the Fishes)" - Redwood City, CA
- "Covalent Love" - New Zealand
- "Soy Yucateco" - Mexico
- "Clouds Make it Rain" - East Palo Alto, California
Risks and challenges
The main challenge is getting everything done on deadline. At this point I've covered the science, history, and song-writing workshops with all schools and we're now in the heart of writing the lyrics to the songs themselves. We're aiming to have the songs completely written by the end of March. Students will have some time to practice, and we'll have the song recorded by mid-April. We'll be planning the video at that point, and we will have the videos completely shot by the end of April. Editing will be done in May, in time to premier the videos to the students before the school year is over. Luckily, I have experience creating these type of projects on much shorter deadlines. "Save the Fishes" (see above) was written, recorded, and shot in less than a week.
Many of the students don't have formal musical training or any experience with this type of project. They need a lot of scaffolding, and it can take a while for them to get the hang of the basic skills: from rhyming to lyric-writing. However, one of my favorite parts about the project is that in any group of students, there is a diverse set of skills. Some students thrive on the science. Others are rhyming naturals. Others have epic visions for the video. Based on my previous experience, my strategy is to let different students shine for each part of the process, and to encourage them to teach each other the requisite skills. Students get to display skills not typically rewarded in the classroom, and get to collaborate with each other to make an incredible final product.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (27 days)