Doug Edmonds has earned a new nickname in the past few years: “The Bill Nye of Science Song.”
Channeling the popularity of the Fox show “Glee,” Doug has spent the last two years creating and singing 15 songs set to pop music that explain scientific concepts in ways kids can easily understand. And, he’s shared his science songs with a wide audience via YouTube, receiving positive feedback from students, teachers and parents as far away as India and Australia. A few of his videos have received more than 20,000 views.
An avid guitarist and singer, Doug had long contemplated the idea of using music to help his students learn.
“How can I bring that talent—who I am—to my teaching?” he remembers thinking over more than 20 years working in schools.
He created his first science song in 2009, “The Density Song,” set to the tune of “Popular,” from the hit musical “Wicked.” His version was also a hit—with his students. One parent was awestruck when she played the song during carpool and all the kids in her car started singing about density. At the end of that year, Doug collaborated with his students on a song called “Speed is Distance Over Time,” set to “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.”
Then came “The Energy Song,” set to “That’s the Way (I Like It),” “The Chemical Bond Song,” set to ABBA’s “Dancing Queen,” and more.
“They’re learning the patterns of scientific language, and expressing scientific concepts with precision,” he says. And he does look to Bill Nye as a model: “He gets into his student’s psyches, and makes them feel really included.”
Every day, Doug receives emails from people he’s never met, thanking him for his work: “You saved me on my test”; “You’ve been the salvation of science this year—they love it, and they love what they are learning,” one teacher wrote; the videos even help students with special needs. An entire school learned “The Energy Song” to prepare for statewide testing. One teacher even printed Doug’s face on T-shirts, and his former students have made him a celebrity of sorts at Glenbrook North High School.
And the musical science party just keeps on rocking, with Doug at the mic. His summer project? Explaining photosynthesis with the help of Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream.”