Rap videos are unequivocally my favorite way to learn. Really any educational music video. It started in my childhood with School House Rocks and eventually Bill Nye the Science Guy.Â To this day I still love educational songs, but not so much the ones geared towards things you learn in 6th grade. Believe it or not there are smart raps with collegiate level subject matter.
One of my friends from Stanford, Tom McFadden, created a series of rap videos about human biology. He was a course instructor for the human biology program and created most the videos to help teach his students. Even though it is not my favorite topic, I am completely engrossed by the videos and able to retain a lot of information:
Since virtually all cells have the same genome, cell specialization (for example: whether a cell becomes a neuron or a skin cell) is largely controlled by which genes are actually transcribed in a given cell. This can be controlled by transcription factors â proteins which bind to DNA and interact with the cellular machinery to control gene expression. An important family of transcription factors are Hox genes, which control which body parts grow where.
Hox genes control where legs, wings, and antennae grow in the fruit fly (so mutating them leads to some strange creatures). These same Hox genes have been highly conserved during evolution, and control vertebrae specialization in mice and humans. This helps to bring home a main lesson of developmental biology: that creating different body forms isnât so much about what genes you have, but how you regulate them.
But my absolute favorite educational music video is “Fear the Boom and Bust” about the macroeconomic theories of John Maynard Keynes and F.A. Hayek. It is professionally made and provides a hilarious account of Economics 101:
This quality of content comes about when a talented producer with an interest in macroeconomics realizes the popular media isn’t talking about monetary policy. We need more people like this in the media.