Full STEAM (or is it STEM) Ahead!

There are so many different learning styles. Some children learn best by reading things. Some learn best by seeing things. Some by doing things. Sometimes a combination of these. And then there are those of us who learn best from music. I’m a member of that last group. I like to think of those in my age group as The School House Rock generation. We are those kids who spent Saturday mornings learning about science, math, grammar and more – all set to music that was so catchy, we can still sing all the words to “I’m Just a Bill” and “Conjunction Junction.”  Over the years, I’ve often thought if all of my school subjects had been set to music, they would still be in my brain alongside the lyrics to every song from my teen years. And that’s where the three albums below come in.

As we all know, there is a great emphasis on STEM education in our schools. But sometimes, if you don’t have the most analytical brain or that much of an interest in these subject areas, it’s hard to remember all of the concepts. And that is the beauty of these albums. Each album takes a different approach to STEM subjects and each employs different musical styles, but they all set the STEM concepts to music in a manner that will have kids learning without even realizing it.

 

 

First up, the duo of Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer mark their 35th album collaboration with Zoom a Little Zoom! A Ride Through Science. In this collection Fink and Marxer create contemporary arrangements of 10 songs that were written by Hy Zaret, composed by Lou Singer and released in 1961 as part of the educational collection, Ballads for the Age of Science.  With this modern update songs that cover topics such as what makes lightning, the constellations, what makes an insect an insect and gravity are allowed to shine in a way that will appeal to today’s young listeners. 

 

 

Kidz STEM Songz is more than just a compilation of songs, it is two full albums and a DVD of music videos. Collected and compiled by children’s music artist Dan Crow and his partners at KidzMusic Records, the first CD in this box set is Crow’s 2016 album of STEM focused songs, Concoctions. The five songs on this album cover simple math concepts, technology and the fact that science is all around us. The album also includes five karoake tracks of these songs to encourage kids to sing along. The second album in this set is KidzMusic’s STEAM. The 15 songs on this album cover topics from the genius of Einstein to botany. Each track is performed by a varied group of children’s artist ranging from Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band to Jonathan Sprout to Eric Ode and Danny Weinkauf. This box set is definitely a one of a kind.

 

 

Finally, enter the world of STEM with Giants of Science by the dynamic duo The Pop Ups. On this, their fifth album, Brooklyn-based musicians Jason Rabinowitz and Jacob Stein let their songwriting and performing talents loose on ten new songs. A very high production value makes each of these tracks ready for play on the radio or TV. In fact, listeners of SiriusXM’s Kids Place Live will already be familiar with the fun, question-filled tune, “How Do We Know.” Covering everything from shadows and inventors to space and time, The Pop Ups unique style of music will keep family members of all ages engaged and asking for more.

A Little Something for Everyone

With school starting in many areas this week, I thought I would highlight a couple of albums that have come out within the past year – one for the preschool set and one for those in grade school.

lisaloebOne of my absolute favorite albuims for preschool teachers and parents is Lisa Loeb’s latest, Nursery Rhyme Parade! As stated in the Public Library Association (PLA) and Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) initiative Every Child Ready to Read, beginning at birth, singing is one of the key activities for parents and caregivers to do with children everyday to help develop early literacy skills. What better way to do that than with nursery rhymes? For the last few years we have noticed that more and more of the parents coming to our storytimes and early childhood programs have no knowledge of nursery rhymes, which is why Lisa’s album is so important. In this collection, 35 nursery rhymes are treated to Loeb’s beautiful, clear voice. Backed only by soothing acoustic accompaniment, the words and rhymes are allowed to shine. Everything is here from Mother Goose favorites such as “Sing a Song of Sixpence,” “Peter Piper” and “Humpty Dumpty” to classic children’s songs like “This Old Man,” Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush” and “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” Every preschool teacher, librarian and parent should have a copy of this CD.

 

dancrowFor the older set, Dan Crow’s latest album, Concoctions is a solid choice. While there are only five original songs in this collection, they are written more for a grade school audience with an overarching STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) theme. With high energy melodies, Crow delivers rousing tunes such as “Science Science Science” which emphasizes the fact that science is everywhere, in the sky, on the ground and all around. “Technology” talks about what technology is and how it has evolved. Here is a cute video to go along with the song. And “You’re an Engineer” touches on the many, many ways that you can be an engineer. The song “Seven” is an ode to that luckiest of numbers while “Franklin D. Dime & Abraham Penny” is about, you guessed it, the coins in your pocket. The unique thing about this album, which would make it useful in a classroom activity, is that the last half of the album is karaoke versions of these five songs. What a fun way to introduce students to the general concept of STEM!