Last semester, Missouri State University biochemistry students tried a different kind of lesson plan – a rap battle.
It was such a success that they held another one this year, and it has become a fan favorite event.
“I absolutely love this event as it gives an opportunity for students from diverse backgrounds and majors to interact and work on core concepts of biochemistry in a fun-filled way,” MSU chemistry and biochemistry professor Dr. Tuhina Banerjee said. “After the event, most students formed study groups, so it’s very rewarding for me to see their success.”
Making waves in the classroom
In last year’s rap battle, the students rapped about many topics of biochemistry, such as protein structure, amino acids, hemoglobin conformational states and kinetics.
Bradley Byler, a junior microbiology student, said they decided to keep it simple this year.
“We decided to focus on hydrophobic interactions,” Byler said. “We covered topics, such as the spontaneous folding of proteins, their roles in cell walls and other amphipathic structures, hydrophobic amino acids and structures, such as liposomes and micelles.”
Students separated into teams based on gender, with the girls’ team winning this year.
Coming out of their shells
The event was successful, with a large crowd turnout, material learned and lots of fun.
Byler said many first-year participants like him were nervous to drop their first verses in the classroom, but it didn’t last long.
“We slowly became more engaged as we realized it was simply a fun and alternative way to show what we learned,” he added.
Keiona Woodard, a senior biology and chemistry student, helped bring the students’ ideas to life on the theme.
“I was in charge of coordinating the group with our assigned song,” Woodard said. “I constructed each person’s verse and made sure it flowed with the beat.”
The event revealed a new way of studying material the students loved.
“It was a unique take on learning, and writing rap lyrics on any topic is a surefire way to keep it in my mind for a very long time,” Byler said. “Perhaps it’s how I’ll study for the final.”
“I appreciated how Dr. Banerjee provided the opportunity for us to learn and engage with the course material in a fun way,” Woodard said. “I hope she continues to do the rap battle for future students because I think it’s a great way for everyone to come together and learn.”
Banerjee is happy she can make the event a tradition for her Introduction to Biochemistry (CHM352) class.
“I’m so proud of my students,” Banerjee said. “It’s a big class with 82 students, and to organize and coordinate this event was challenging with everyone’s busy schedules.”
Some special people made it all possible.
“Special thanks go to judges Drs. Gary Meints, Natasha DeVore, Gautam Bhattacharya and Matthew Seibert,” she said. “We also can’t forget our special guests Drs. Tamera Jahnke, Adam Wanekaya, Erich Steinle and Janene Proctor.”