Crank Up The Tunes In The Name Of Science

By Jordan Martin

I took an anatomy and physiology class during my senior year of high school because one of my favorite teachers taught the class. I will never forget the time that our lab groups were each able to dissect a sheep’s heart. My teacher had a quirky sense of humor, and he played any song that talked about hearts throughout the class period.

Mark Griep from the Department of Chemistry at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln uses a similar technique for teaching his students. He describes how he incorporates music into the classroom. “If I have enough time, I play one of these songs before my undergraduate course in general or liberal arts chemistry. They are timed so class begins when the song ends. Some students keep track of the songs and try to figure how they relate to the lecture.”

Many of the songs are popular or were popular at the time each song was released. Artists include Frank Sinatra, Nirvana and Imagine Dragons. Clearly there is a wide array of genres, and each song Griep chooses relates to chemistry. For example, Frank Sinatra’s “(How Little It Matters) How Little We Know” is related to the nature of light. “Lithium” by Nirvana is correlated with elements, ions and periodic properties; and Imagine Dragons’ song, “Radioactive,” deals with radioactivity.

Music is a good way to get the younger generations to love chemistry because it combines education with an enjoyable pastime. In the right setting, music could ignite a love for chemistry in the youth of today.

I am currently studying to be a high-school teacher. If possible, I would like to apply this concept to my classroom in the future. I wonder how I can incorporate “Summer” by Calvin Harris into my curriculum.

To learn more about Griep’s class, visit this site: http://chemweb.unl.edu/griep/music-chemistry/

If you have a song that reminds you of your studies – or any other teaching device that really impacted your life, let me know via the comments feature. I want to encourage students to pursue great careers.


jordan martinJordan Martin is Chemical Processing’s Social Media Outreach Program Intern. She plays the piano and the cello because they are both beautiful instruments. To this day she can’t hear “Me and My Broken Heart,” without thinking about that anatomy and physiology lab.