Sometimes, study guides and flashcards don’t do the trick.
To mix things up, biochemistry students at Missouri State University united to create a unique study session – a rap battle.
“Integration of biochemistry concepts with music amplifies the learning experience and makes it more interactive,” MSU chemistry and biochemistry professor Dr. Tuhina Banerjee said.
The battle of knowledge
Imitation is the greatest form of flattery.
Alex Babel, chemistry graduate student and participant of the event, says his colleagues spurred this inspiration.
“The idea resulted from a presentation given by several of my peers at the beginning of the semester,” Babel said. “At the end of their presentation, they shared a rap they’d found online to act as a mnemonic for remembering amino acid functionality. Many people in the class found it funny and Dr. Banerjee suggested we make our own biochemistry-related rap for extra credit.
“A week later, the idea had evolved into an entire rap battle!”
Students separated into teams based on gender.
Babel was the group leader for the boys’ team, named “The Biochem Boys.”
“My team performed a cover of ‘N95’ by Kendrick Lamar,” he said. “We briefly covered many of the major topics we’d discussed in class (protein structure, amino acids, hemoglobin conformational states, kinetics, etc.). But we gave particular attention to chemical chaperones in the second verse. We even sang a little bit.”
Even though the girls’ team took the victory, everyone won that day.
“It brought many of us closer together,” Babel said. “I sincerely hope future classes get the opportunity to express themselves just like we did.”
Material learned, memories made
With a large crowd turnout, a complete judging panel and lots of laughs, the event was well received.
“This event was awesome — it was bigger than any of us expected!” Babel said. “The highlight was getting to meet with many of my peers outside of class to work on a few things we’re passionate about: music, biochemistry and extra credit.”
Banerjee hopes to use more creative learning opportunities like these in the future.
“It was fun to see how much hard work they put together to make this event unforgettable,” she said. “I plan on having this event every year, with even more mnemonics.”
The success of the event wouldn’t be possible without some important people.
“I’d like to thank my students for putting on such a great show, and judges Dr. Gary Meints, Dr. Gautam Bhattacharya and my colleague Dr. Natasha DeVore, for their willingness to judge this event.”