Deirdre Moore | January 2018

Get Your Nerd On!

Does witnessing brilliance bring tears to your eyes?  Does brilliant integration inspire you?  Then you MUST check out this musician and scientist, Tim Blais, who has a YouTube channel called A Capella Science.  I’ll be honest, the science about which he sings is WAY beyond my comprehension. But I think how he takes popular songs, re-writes the words to express complex science concepts and then performs all the vocal parts himself is worthy of attention.  Even if you don’t understand the science!

Sheer Brilliance

My reasons for sharing the work of this incredible YouTuber are threefold. The first reason is, as I said, just the sheer brilliance of it.  This man demonstrates an amazing capacity to understand and explain complicated science concepts in an engaging way.  He also skillfully re-writes songs that honors the beauty of the original while completely transforming them for his own purposes.  He has an impressive vocal range (most notable in his “Bohemian Rhapsody” parody about string theory) and the ability to make all of the instrumental sounds for his a cappella performances.

When I witness brilliance it inspires me to find my own. To delve into that which makes my heart sing.  These videos just might do that for you and your students as well.  They may feel inspired to create their own music parodies to share what they know about a topic! And in that process, they’ll learn about music and/or use what they know already about music.  In other words, this might inspire your students to practicing arts integration.

Bringing Interests Together

Tim Blais best summed up my second reason. He is a Canadian who attended McGill University.  He was interviewed by the McGill Daily back in 2012.  Here is an excerpt from that interview when asked whether he considers himself a singer or a scientist.

I don’t really know what I am. I’m a person with varied interests, like most people, and I’ve found a way to bring some of those interests together. I think it’ll be great if I can get people more interested in science, or if I can get scientists more interested in indulging their creative side. I think people often try too hard to be just one thing – a musician, a doctor, an artist, a physicist – at the expense of the other facets of their personality. Maybe that’s why people love this kind of mash-up between worlds, the scientific and the musical….It’s awesome because you didn’t expect it, but why not? People aren’t machines built for a single task.

I adore that quote.  Just yes!   We want to help our students develop all facets of themselves.  They will lead richer lives and have more ways to express themselves. They’ll know themselves better and develop more ways of exploring and understanding the world outside of themselves.  Blais’ early years were steeped in music, Bill Nye the Science guy and homeschooling  – these videos are the result.

Teaching Tools

My last reason for sharing this is because someone out there may be able to use his videos as a teaching tool.  While most is too advanced for elementary school, his “Evo-Devo” (parody of “Despacito”) might help students get a sense of how our bodies know how to grow and his “All About that Base” (parody of “All About that Bass”) might excite students about acids and bases.  The students could watch that as an introduction, study the concept and then go back to the video to see how much more they understand.  Some high school students might be able to appreciate those videos as well as “The Molecular Shape of You” (parody of “The Shape of You”) about chemical bonding.

Although most of his videos would clearly be best appreciated by college students studying biology, physics and chemistry or practicing scientists as evidenced by the comments made about his videos on his Facebook page and on YouTube.  There are several comments made by viewers who said they know his parodies better than the originals. They talk about what a great way this is to learn concepts.  Yep!

Whether you love science, music, arts integration or just brilliant people, definitely check out Tim Blais’ A Capella Science and be prepared to get your nerd on!

About the Author

Deirdre is a teaching artist and AI coach in the San Diego public schools dedicated to helping classroom teachers make arts an integral part of their teaching. Deirdre has an MEd in Arts Integration and over twenty years of classroom and performing arts teaching experience. Email Deirdre.