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Winston-Salem students rap and sing to learn science

WINSTON-SALEM, NC -- What do you do if you’re a middle school teacher and your students just don’t quite get the subject matter? That was the dilemma for an eighth-grade teacher in Winston-Salem trying to pass on the fundamentals of science to the teens.

The solution to his problem came from watching the students do what students do and that took them out of the classroom on a field trip after some in-class creativity.

The Wiley Middle School eighth-graders spent the day at the Digital Labs Recordings studio turning it into a science lab for an interesting experiment.

The rap session is the brainchild of their teacher, Noah Henley, and is a lesson built on frustration.

“They kept putting their headphones in and it was the most annoying thing in the entire world,” said Henley, who decided to channel that annoyance into a lesson.

“I said, 'Put your headphones in and pick a song you really enjoy,' and I put a bunch of vocabulary on the board and I said take that vocab and put it in the lyrics.”

The students worked in groups, diving into the science vocabulary and definitions, looking for ways to write song lyrics.

“Students were in the hallways, on the floors of my classroom, on my desk scribbling (asking), ‘Mr, Henley can you help me I need a rhyme for this.’ I’m like, OK we’ll try and get it done,” said Henley.

Henley used a school connection to ask Digital Labs Recordings to get involved and studio owner Jermaine Rodman was more than happy to oblige.

“Music is a tool for a lot of things and I believe if we imply music more on the educational side I think it’s easier for them to grasp and learn whatever lessons that’s being taught,” Rodman said.

While some of the students were better than others at rapping and singing, they’ll all get an A for effort and when it’s time for the next test -- they’ll know the material like it’s their favorite song.

“If you’re on a test and you listen to our song you can just sing the song and get an answer on a test just like that,” eighth-grader Carlos Lucas said.

“To see them when they’re doing this go, 'Oh, I know what that is,' that’s awesome, that connection,” Henley said.

The songs the students recorded will be shared with other teachers across the school district and used in their classrooms to help other students in their preparation for the End of Grade testing.