The Role of Music in Science Education

Outcome: Listening to Waves is an educational program that seeks to engage youth in STEM by teaching them the science of waves through the creation of electronic sounds and musical instruments. An upshot of Dr. Minces’ and Dr. Khalil’s TDLC work investigating the role of music in education, is that it is now supported by the EHR division of the National Science Foundation. Since its inception, Listening to Waves has served more than 1300 students, largely from low SES populations.

Impact/benefits: The goal of the Listening to Waves program is to increase student engagement with science. In the Listening to Waves program, students learn the science of waves and signal processing through making electronic music and acoustic musical instruments, expanding their horizons through career awareness activities and media. At the end of this program, sound making objects created are presented individually as a public art-science-show and collectively in a music concert in which the different aspects of waves are visualized. In this way, not only the participants of the program but the whole community are invited to appreciate the rich physical world embedded in music. In addition, Victor and Alex aim to understand how their program influences students’ perception of the relevance of science in their lives and the perception of themselves as scientists.

Background/Explanation: An important problem in science education is that students often do not perceive the topics covered in school as relevant to their everyday lives. Therefore, it is important to understand what learning experiences can be meaningful for the students and how these experiences can influence their lives and their relationship with science. Victor Minces and Alexander Khalil realized that music is a ubiquitous interest in adolescent populations, and that there are numerous connections between music and science. They decided to create a K-12 science of music education program to increase student engagement with science.

Victor Minces and Alex Khalil

Note: The Listening to Waves program developed from work at the Temporal Dynamics of Learning Center (TDLC). The program was recently awarded an NSF grant (Innovative Technologies for Students and Teachers, ITEST), for $1.1 Million, starting July 2017.

V. Minces, A. Khalil, I. Oved, C. Challen, A. Chiba (2016). Listening to Waves: Using computer tools to learn science through making music. EDULEARN16 Proceedings, pp. 3844-3852.

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