University of Washington’s Sing About Science and Math Project: Songs for Teaching, Learning & Fun
For many young learners, rhythm and repetition can be a very effective way of learning new words and remembering the names of things. Children easily learn commonly sung songs with lyrics of all kinds, and we use their ability to learn lyrics as a way to share information. Take the ABC’s for example – it’s a song that we use to teach the letters of the English alphabet, it’s fun and easy to sing, and matching the names of letters to different parts of the rhythm helps to support children in remembering the order that the go in.
Songs don’t just have to be used to convey basic ideas to the youngest of learners, though – there are educational songs for kids of all ages and about all kinds of things! The University of Washington’s Sing About Science and Math Project offers an online database of over 7,000 songs that cover an immense variety of topics in technology, biology, environmental science, physics, chemistry, math, engineering, and medicine. The database, which has been growing since 2004, includes tunes for kids of all ages – meaning there are songs about the periodic table for kindergarteners, high school sophomores, graduate students, and grandparents, too, like this one by They Might Be Giants:
The site’s search function allows for parents and educators (and older students) to search by more than just topic… There are multiple topic fields, as well as options to specify performer, age range, album title, video and lyric availability, and even the song upon which a parody song was based. Searching can be done with as much or as little specificity as you want – the tools can be used to find a particular song, or can be used to generate a wide variety of tunes about a topic.
Adding music to learning can be incredibly helpful to learners who like to auditory learners. The rhythm of the songs aids in remembering definitions and the scientific names of principles, and the songs can help to inspire kids to learn about the things that they hear in the songs. Educators can find lesson plans inspired by some of the songs in the database on the Sing About Science and Math Project website, and the activities in the lessons are not just centered around the same topic as a song, but stem directly from the information in the song. They aren’t written to accompany studies of a particular topic, but are tailored to accompany songs just as a writing lesson might accompany a particular book.
Does your family have a favorite album that includes math or science songs? Check the database to make sure that it’s included! Though there are thousands of songs, it’s possible that your favorite dino-themed road trip CD by a local artist hasn’t made it there yet. Suggestions for songs to add can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org, like this one by Mates of States: