Author: Maryann “Mar” Harman, Founder of Music with Mar, LLC
STEAM refers to Science, Technology, Engineering, Art & Math. Music is part of the Art portion and very much belongs in the mix for all the wonderful enhancements it makes to learning. For this blog, I am focusing on how the A part of STEAM is weaved into the Science part.
Keep in mind our job isn’t to teach children to be scientists. It is to awaken the little scientist that is already there.
Albert Einstein said he discovered his theory of relativity through music.
If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a MUSICIAN. I often think in MUSIC. I live my daydreams in MUSIC. I see my life in terms of MUSIC. – Albert Einstein
With all the proof and many great minds recognizing the role music plays in creating a scientific mind, we MUST keep it in our education system. Let’s explore some ways to do that.
Let’s change the perspective of science is hard. Let’s look at science as very ‘interesting’. I was told magic was fun, interesting and science was hard. But, wait. Magic is science. Looking at it that way, the subject is much more appealing.
Childcraft Education had me compose a series of songs for an early childhood science curriculum – the “Celebrate Science Series”. I began researching, my head spinning with ideas to write five songs for each of the five strands of science:
- Physical Science
- Life Science
- Earth Science
- Inquiry Science
- Personal / Social Science
Knowing music/movement get both hemispheres of the brain involved with learning, enhancing retention, I put together activities including music (songs, rhythm activities) / movement (dance, drama, games).
1. Nearly 100% of past winners in the prestigious Siemens Westinghouse Competition in math, science, and technology (for high school students) play one or more musical instruments. The Midland Chemist 05
2. Music creates a positive state for learning because it helps to reduce stress levels, heighten attention, enhance concentration, reinforce memory and stimulate motivation. Campbell, 97; Jensen,00
3. When children act out stories, they are reviewing the organization of the story and putting things in sequence, a science process skill. Epstein & Trimis, 02
One of my favorite activities, “Peanut Butter & Jelly” teaches scientific process. This can be such a fun lesson. First discuss what is needed – peanuts, grapes, bread – which could lead into who eats these sandwiches and who doesn’t. (If you have a child with peanut allergies, you will have to modify the lesson.) That could lend itself to graphing.
Singing the song itself teaches control of the voice as we sing “Peanut, peanut butter” and whisper “and jelly”. Acting out the words activate the motor cortex, aiding retention and comprehension.
Peanut Butter & Jelly
Peanut, peanut butter (sing) and jelly (whisper)
First you get some peanuts and you crack ‘em, you crack ‘em
Then you squash ‘em, squash ‘em, squash ‘em
Then you spread ‘em, spread ‘em, spread ‘em (peanut, peanut butter and jelly)
Then you get some grapes and you pick ‘em. You pick ‘em
And you smash ‘em, smash ‘em, smash ‘em
And you smear ‘em, smear ‘em, smear ‘em (peanut, peanut butter and jelly)
Then you get some bread to make a sandwich
And then you bite it. You bite it. Bite it. Bite it.
And then you chew it. Chew it. Chew it. Chew it (peanut, peanut butter and jelly)
After the song, make the sandwiches. While eating, read a book to the children about it. Perhaps, Peanut Butter & Jelly.
We think we’re just being silly; and, the brain is learning scientific process.
Using music is a functional/ necessary tool in the classroom and becoming more main stream (or should I say STEAM?) accepted. We need more teachers using music. The number is growing. Be a part of that number!