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Education It's funny.  Laugh. Science

Singing Science 129

Posted by samzenpus
from the lyrical-learning dept.
udderly writes " Wired is running a story about a University of Washington biology lecturer, Greg Crowther, who sings lectures. From the article: 'Crowther bursts into song to the melody of Sugar Sugar, the bubble-gum '60s tune - "Glucose, ah sugar sugar / You are my favorite fuel from the bloodborne substrate pool / Glucose -- monosaccharide sugar -- you're sweeter than a woman's kiss / 'cause I need you for glycolysis."' In college I used many different types of devices to help memorize information like this. Crowther has a page where you can download samples. Among my favorites are The Krebs Cycle and Come On Down (The Electron Transport Chain)."
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Singing Science

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  • by ATeamMrT (935933) on Sunday December 04, 2005 @01:42PM (#14179265)
    The worst teachers are stuck in one method. The best ones will explain a topic in multiple ways. I had one math teacher that used things like "Please Excuse My Poor Aunt Sally" to teach about equations- parenthesis, exponents, multiplication/division, addition, subtraction. To someone else, it might be a complex list of what to do first and rules. But he showed a small trick, and nobody missed it. I wish more teachers would take the time to find teaching methods that work, rather than passing the blame to students and telling students to "study harder".

    It is one of the reasons dissection is so important in Biology classes. Kids can't learn by looking at a picture in a book of what the digestive system looks like. It is different to cut a frog open and see for yourself. It also stimulates the imagination in ways books can not. I remember looking at the cardiovascular system and wondering "Why do we have heart attacks? Why not just add a small pump at the inferior vena cava to help weak hearts. And if someone has a heart attack, the pump will act like a CPR machine, keeping blood flowing.

    Teachers like this guy are a pleasure to have. They love their field. They feel a responsibility to reach all students, regardless of how the kid learns. I knew some smart kids in highschool who never made it that far in academia because they got stuck with book learning- read the book than take a scan tron. But when you talk with them, you realize they learn 10X as much as the rest of us when they see something done. I've seen this guy tear a carburetor apart and rebuild it, after watching someone else do it. But he could not do simple Chem 100 problems.

    I wonder how many savants are out there who were pushed out of mainstream education because traditional book reading followed by test taking did not show their potential?

    I think the anwser for education is to require a Ed.D instead of a Ph.D to teach the first four years of college. Let the Ph.D's do research. Just because they are expert in their field does not mean they know how to convey that information to others.

  • by Aladrin (926209) on Sunday December 04, 2005 @01:48PM (#14179299)
    Umm... Are you SURE they work? "Please Excuse My Poor Aunt Sally" is PEMPAS, not PEMDAS. I think the word you want is 'dear' rather than 'poor.' Also, you just said the worst teachers are stuck on 1 method, and then give a tale about a teacher that only used one method, but it worked...
  • Re:Mnemonics (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ltwally (313043) on Sunday December 04, 2005 @01:52PM (#14179322) Homepage Journal
    "If you need a song to understand the difference between glucose and fructose, then why bother taking the course in the first place?"
    Many of us were forced to take non-major classes that we had no interest in, in order to get our degrees. I'm going to hazard a guess that you either never attended an institution of higher-education, or you attended a technical/trade school.

    Also, one of the reasons that universities force you to learn so many things that you will later forget is so that your future employer knows that you are capable of learning these things. The knowledge itself is often secondary to the ability to acquire that knowledge.

  • Re:Mnemonics (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ATeamMrT (935933) on Sunday December 04, 2005 @01:59PM (#14179360)
    If you need a song to understand the difference between glucose and fructose, then why bother taking the course in the first place? You're just going to forget everything you learned as soon as you complete the final exam.

    Just because a class ends, does not mean the learning ends. Some people will have a lightbulb click on in their heads, a year later, remembering something from a previous class.

    Most of what we learn when young is compartmentalized. We don't know how topic A1 relates to topic B4. In your example, maybe glucose means nothing to the test taker, except an answer to get a good grade in Biology 100. But next year, when taking Chem 100 and hearing about exothermic reactions, something will click in his head, and he will remember ATP and the krebs cycle. Maybe he will sit back, close his eyes, and start thinking of making a super mitochondira where an elephant can lift 10 times the normal weight, and how to use this elephant in hard to reach parts of Africa to build better housing or hospitals.

    We should get the most from everyone, use whatever methods work, and not critisize a teacher for reaching 10% of his students that might otherwise not understand.

  • by Vegeta99 (219501) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {nnyljr}> on Sunday December 04, 2005 @02:07PM (#14179387)
    But it still worked! he failed to recall the nmemonic correctly, but he recalled the information he needed the nmeonic's help to remember.

    His teacher used the standard write-the-rules-on-the-board method and then gave a nmemonic to remember it. That gives you just one extra thing (that's worth a lot) to link it to in memory. That's the best way to memorize things, not to sit and read it over and over again, but to give it a relationship to something else in memory.
  • Re:Mnemonics (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Rayaru (898516) * on Sunday December 04, 2005 @04:04PM (#14180001) Homepage
    Aside from the task of passing on human knowledge from generation to generation, another major focus of universities is to provide an environment conducive to research, or the creation of new knowledge. Joe Dropout might be able to start a local computer business and make more money that a graduate fresh out of college, but except in extraordinary cases he is not the one pioneering the development of new computers.
  • Re:Mnemonics (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 04, 2005 @04:32PM (#14180170)
    Not the OP, but you are confusing the state of affairs of your country's universities with others. It could just be that the OP is from a different system than you...

    I'm thinking you're probably American? I've heard that US universities make undergrads take a mix of courses outside of their major.

    In New Zealand and Australia (and many other countries I am sure), you have a huge freedom in choosing extra papers as long as you do a few major-related required papers. This means that most people can go through their degree and never have to take any non-major classes they aren't interested in.

    Sure, you come out with a "narrower" education, but you don't have to take English Lit. if you're only interested in biochem, and vice versa :)
    (I think our degree programs end up being shorter as well because of this?)

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