Can You Learn Science Through Music?

We’ve all seen science music videos on YouTube.

From songs about the human skeletal system to the organelles of a cell, the internet is filled with an impressive array of free educational music videos.

If you’re a science teacher, you may have even played one of these science songs for your students.

Science songs certainly make learning science more fun for students. And any small spark of fun can have tremendous effects on future career choices of young minds.

With technology advancing rapidly in our modern world, science-based jobs on the rise across the globe. We need cures for diseases. We need solutions for world hunger. We need more efficient robots to free up our time.

All of these needs for humanity all point back to science. And it all starts with K-12 science education.

Our job as educators is to prepare these young minds for the future. To inspire dreams for a future career in science. Even that small spark of curiosity in biology, physics or chemistry for a young student, has potential to lead to revolutionary scientific discovery in the future.


How do I get students interested and engaged in science?

To provide this spark of fun and curiosity, teachers are always looking for innovative ways to engage and interest students in the science classroom.

From interactive games to project-based learning, there are a variety of teaching tools we can pull out of our toolbox.

One notable tool for gaining student interest and engagement in science is the use of science songs and music videos.

Students already love listening to music. So much that they listen to music upwards of 4.5 hours every day. Music plays an essential role in cultural identity and emotional expression. Especially for young students that are in the early stages of psychological development.

Science songs allow teachers to harness the power of music to enhance learning in the classroom. Content-based science music has been shown to improve long-term comprehension, enhance short-term recall, reduce stress, and boost student enjoyment.

An ideal tool for introducing new scientific concepts to students, quality science songs are effective tools for helping students understand basic vocabulary in the science classroom.

Plus, they’re fun for everyone!


Where do I find science songs and music videos?

For free educational videos, YouTube is your go-to resource. With large library of free science songs, the downside is that the quality of most songs and videos are typically pretty low.

If you’re looking for a higher quality option, your answer is Jam Campus. Here at Jam Campus Education, we offer the internets best selection of premium K-12 science songs. All songs use modern pop and hip-hop beats, plus use engaging, animated visuals that are perfect for playing in classrooms.

Our extensive library contains science songs about Cellular Structure, Meiosis, Plate Tectonics, the Citric Acid Cycle, the Electromagnetic Spectrum, and many more. Check out the full library of science songs here.

And the science songs are only the beginning. Each song contains additional resources to maximize student learning. In addition to songs and music videos, every topic includes a lyrical sheet, karaoke version, and interactive online quiz. All additional resources to help improve learning and increase long-term comprehension.

How do science songs impact learning?

Using science songs in the classroom sounds like a captivating idea. But will actually improve student learning? Let’s take a look at what the research says.


Improve long-term memory

It’s no surprise that music and memory have a strong connection within the brain. 

Your favorite childhood song pops on the radio and you’re instantly transported back to those exact feelings and emotions you’ve previously felt. There’s a reason why you remember all of the lyrics of a song, yet you can’t remember what you had for breakfast. Those neural connections between music and memory are strong and enduring.

But research about music specifically in the science classroom is still in its early days. The most recent study from 2016 involved over 1,000 participants, all K-12 students. This study tested the hypothesis that content-based science songs can effectively teach scientific concepts for the long-term. Researchers initially found that there was no significant difference between learning through song versus learning through a traditional educational video.

However, when participants were quizzed one-month after the videos were watched, a unique finding occurred. Those that had watched the science music video performed significantly higher than those that watched a more traditional form of video.

In other words, the science song was more effective for long-term comprehension than the traditional video.

This study has yet to be replicated. But initial findings indicate that science songs can have a profound effect on the long-term comprehension of scientific concepts.


Improved recall and memorization

Researchers at John Hopkins University claim that integrating music into a classroom setting can improve students memory and recall of the target learning material. Whether you’re playing an emotional song about World War II or a strong upbeat rhythm to help explain electricity, music helps activate the information mentally, physically, and emotionally.

And good news for using content-based learning songs, such as Jam Campus songs: when specific learning content is put to a rhyme and rhythm, the elements provide a hook for improved memory recall.

These types of songs work to improve short-term memory in our brain similar to the way mnemonic devices operate. Although rote memorization is far from the intended goal of learning and education on a broader scale, content-based songs may help students in the short term to memorize key lists, definitions, relationships and establish a foundation of vocabulary.

Content-based learning songs have also been shown to help students structure information into a specific, calculated pattern. And our brain loves patterns!

As we process these sensory inputs from a musical song, our brain is synchronously determining patterns to predict what will come next.

Along with predicting patterns, our brain also has a deep-seated love for surprises, releasing dopamine into our system and bringing us attention and inspiration.

When we listen to a song, we’re subconsciously detecting patterns while the music builds up anticipation. Most often that anticipation is satisfied.  However, when a slight variation in the song occurs and provides a surprise to our brain, our emotional senses are activated creating an enhanced memorable experience.

Science songs can improve recall and memorization, similar to the way mnemonic devices work.

As K-12 teachers, we’re all familiar with mnemonic devices. They have been helping humans learn for centuries. And however annoying some of them can be, they do help with memorization.

In general, songs can be classified as organizational mnemonic devices. By sorting information into meter and rhyme, songs limit the number of fitting lyrics to ease the process of recall. These rhyme structures tend to improve short-term recall because they are stored in our brains through acoustic encoding.

An elementary example of a song as a mnemonic device is how young children learn the ABCs, through song. A more complex version of this same principle in regards to scientific content would be memorizing the parts of the brain, through song.

Although rote memorization is far from the intended goal of learning, science songs may help students in the short term achieve the memorization of:

  • Lists
  • Scientific Formulas
  • Vocabulary Definitions
  • Relationships 

Another reason science songs can improve immediate recall is that they help organize information into a specific, calculated pattern. With a love for patterns, the human brain processes these  inputs and is continuously determining auditory patterns to predict next.

In alignment with patterns, the human brain loves surprises. Each surprise releases a bit of dopamine and brings us inspiration and immediate attention.

Every time we hear a new song, our brain is detecting patterns and anticipating what will come next. Most often, our brain is correct in it’s expectation. However, when a deviation in the song occurs and provides a surprise to our brain, our emotional senses are activated creating an enhanced memorable experience.


Reduced Stress

Students can’t learn well in stressful situations.

For optimal learning, students minds and bodies must be in a calming state.

One tip for reducing stress in students is playing background music in your classroom. Some light tunes can work wonders for normalizing body temperature, pulse rate, and blood pressure. All characteristics associated with reducing stress and anxiety.

Specifically in the realm of science songs in the classroom, a 2009 study explored the impact of music in the physiology classroomased on student response, researchers found that music in the classroom provided strong emotional support during high-stress situations throughout the semester. Other benefits are that the science songs provided a feeling of safety and provided a positive boost of energy during lengthy class periods.

Plus, many students will tell you that music helps them feel more comfortable and relaxed in class. In one study of college-level science students, 75% of students preferred music being played in the classroom as it was reported to boost their mood and provide comfort in class.

Another way music can reduce stress in the science classroom is through student participation. This could be through singing science karaoke songs, or encouraging students to get up and dance.

Singing is a well-established mechanism for reducing stress as it releases stored muscle tension. And dancing, along with all physical activities, releases endorphins as a natural mechanism for reducing stress.


Boosts student moods and enjoyment

Positive moods and overall happiness are essential to learning.

Even when controlling for IQ and past performance, happier students significantly outperform their peers.

To boost student happiness, researchers suggest that teachers designing learning activities that capture attention and promote student involvement.

And it turns out that playing music in the science classroom is a great way to boost feelings and energy levels. This could be music causes that dopamine to be released in our brain. And dopamine is commonly known as the “reward chemical” that is associated with good feelings.

Specially in the realm of science, music has been shown to significantly improve the enjoyability of homework. You can even ask students yourself! A whopping 98% of college science students stated strong positive attitudes toward the use of science songs in the classroom.


Solidifies basic vocabulary and foundational concepts

When learning science, understanding vocabulary and basic foundations are essential.

Before students can move on to more complex topics, they must understand the fundamentals. And science teachers around the world continue to stress this point

Unlike textbooks and lectures, content-based science songs provide students with a fun and memorable alternative to understanding the basics.

Content-based science songs help students provide their own conceptual meaning of the topics. Aligning with the constructivist approach, these science songs help students organize information into their own meaning based on their own life experiences.

Spans a variety of learning styles

Every student learns differently.

Some students are better with visuals. Others prefer sound. Educational science music videos are unique in the fact that they span a variety of learning styles, simply because the medium allows.

Visual learners can benefit from the animations on screen. Auditory learners benefit from hearing the musical notes. Verbal learners benefit by using karaoke songs to sing the words out loud. And kinesthetic learners benefit by using their body to dance to science songs.

By stimulating all of our senses, science songs and music videos have the power to provide students with a dynamic learning experience that is difficult to replicate elsewhere.


How to integrate science songs into your classroom

There are several options for integrating content-based science music into daily lessons. These options span across:

  • Posting song video links for students to explore in their free time
  • Having students create their own science songs in groups
  • Performing and discussing Jam Campus karaoke music videos
  • Assigning students to find their favorite science songs from the internet

Suggestions of How To Use Music In Your Science Classroom

Type of music Method Purpose and outcomes
Focus and concentration music Play soft instrumental music in the background while students study, read, and write
  • Increases the level of attention
  • Provides calmness
  • Improves memory and retention
  • Extends focused learning time
Creative brainstorm music Play up-beat instrumental music in the background while students work on group projects, or brainstorm ideas
  • Boosts creativity
  • Promotes collaboration
  • Encourages group cohesion
Welcoming music Play music of teachers choice in the background during breaks, exits, and entries
  • Creates a welcoming atmosphere
  • Improves teacher/student relationships
  • Sets rhythmical learning
Content-based science music Use to introduce new topics, vocabulary, and as an information refresher
  • Improves long-term comprehension
  • Provides a stimulating sound break for increased focus and attention
  • Energizes students during daily energy lulls
  • Helps improve student grades

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