I say science, you say genius.
It was genius indeed as the Bad Engineers from Louis Riel school in southwest Calgary were crowned champs with the Best Overall Performance in the second annual Science Genius Rap battle held at Studio Bell’s National Music Centre May 29.
The event, done in partnership with Calgary schools, Beakerhead and GlobalFest, had more than 170 student participants from six schools: Sir Wildfred Laurier, Louis Riel, Tsuut’ina Middle School, W.O. Mitchell, Annie Gale and Langevin. The schools’ science teachers partnered up with GlobalFest Hip Hop ambassadors to help the students put together science-related rap numbers.
Rebecca Dawn, local hip hop artist and Urban Art Director at GlobalFest, was one of the mentors for the students. She came into the contest with a secret weapon – Dawn also has her Masters degree in Science, studying tropical rainforest ecology.
“When I found out about Science Genius it was a match made in heaven – a dream come true,” said Dawn.
“It’s my passion to find interesting word play and funny new ways to create music and there’s so many metaphors for life in the scientific world.”
Dawn said the key to working with the kids and getting them to jump on stage to rap in science lingo is by bringing them together to have fun and build trust. Add in the teachers’ expertise and the music and science just spills out.
And it’s always a motivator for the kids when the teachers bust out a dance move or drop some rap beats, Dawn said.
Jackson Tyler Jones from Louis Riel School was thrilled his team was able to wow the three judges, who scored the numbers on creativity, science content and performance quality.
“I absolutely loved it – and we killed it in my opinion,” he said.
“Everyone put so much effort into it. We went from some people who wouldn’t even speak in class, to people coming up on stage and doing this stuff.”
As far as coming up with rap stanzas filled with science… no problem said Jones.
“I think it just takes knowledge of poetry and science. And we have a lot of kids in our class who are enthusiastic about rap,” he said.
This is the second year for the program, and the blend of the arts and sciences is right up Beakerhead’s alley, said spokeswoman Sandra Kam.
“That’s what Beakerhead is all about. It’s a smash up of art, technology, science and math,” said Kam.
“So, this is a perfect fit for what Beakerhead does… and kind of build the bridges over the gaps and that it’s not a math stream or an arts stream, but that you take both of them and you put them together.
“We saw that from these kids today.”
The Science Genius Rap Battles was developed by Dr. Christopher Emdin in New York, with the hope of bringing science to the cultural turf of kids. Dr. Emdin was brought to Calgary in 2016 to help local teachers launch a version of it here.
These three winning teams will now perform at GlobalFest on August 23 and then Beakernight Sept. 22:
Best Overall Performance – The Bad Engineers – Louis Riel School
Best Lyrical Performance – Haevy Metalz – Louis Riel School
Best Science Content – The Rapping Flames – Sir Wilfred Laurier