MORNINGSIDE HEIGHTS — City students are about to get schooled on the merits of science by one of the biggest rappers.
Legendary Wu-Tang Clan rapper GZA has joined forces with a group of educators to create Science Genius BATTLES, a program fusing hip-hop and science learning in city schools.
“I am here not as a teacher, nor expert, not genius, but I’m here as a science enthusiast who wants to inspire New York City public high school students to get excited about biology, chemistry and physics,” said GZA in front of a packed auditorium at Columbia Teachers College Wednesday night.
The pilot program is launching in 10 schools with populations who traditionally don’t do as well in science. The program will have students create science-inspired raps, which they will compete against their peers.
“What we are doing now is just showing what we know already exist,” said Chris Emdin, assistant professor of science education at the college. “Bringing hip-hop culture into the classroom and changing the game of education.”
Students from the 10 schools — Bronx Compass, Ellis Preparatory Academy, The Marie Curie School, Park East High School, Hillside Arts, Brooklyn Community Arts and Media, August Martin High, Validus Prep, Urban Assembly School for the Performing Arts and Arts and Media Prep — cheered on GZA after he broke into a little impromptu rap.
“Everything we see around us: the sun, the moon, the stars, the millions of worlds that astound us,” he rapped. “The universe in size is hard to fathom. It was composed in a region small as a single atom.”
Chai Moore, 17, who goes to Urban Assembly, also rapped at the event, performing in front of one of his favorite artists.
“My heart kept going faster,” he said. “GZA from Wu-Tang is here. Wow. It’s nerve wracking.”