We science music enthusiasts often talk of using music as a “hook” to pique students’ interest when introducing a new topic. At the 2013 meeting of the Northwest Biology Instructors’ Organization (NWBIO), I accidentally experienced this phenomenon from the student side.
I’m not much of a naturalist, so I signed up for the afternoon shrub-steppe hike mostly to stretch my legs rather than to observe and learn about plants. But after we played a music video about sagebrush (created by students of Jeremy Long) during my morning workshop, I found myself curious about the sagebrush that we encountered on the hike. Where else does this stuff grow? Does it really belong to the same genus as the natural source of the antimalaria drug artemisinin? Fortunately, PNNL ecologist Janelle Downs was there to answer questions (mine and everyone else’s).
Thanks to the appealing lead-in of the song, I was much more interested in sagebrush than I would have been otherwise, and thus learned more than I would have otherwise.