FIND/ADD SONGS: F.A.Q.

(This page was last updated on September 2, 2016.)

1. What happened to "MASSIVE"?
2. What qualifies as a STEM song?
3. Does the datase contain links to every known STEM song?
4. How many songs are covered by the database?
5. Why can't I play some of the sound samples listed in the database?
6. Why doesn't the database include many songs on the environment, fitness, nutrition, etc.?
7. Why do I find few songs when I search with a really general keyword?
8. Why doesn't the database include So-and-so's fabulous ballad about the Fick equation?
9. Song X is listed in the database, but there's no link to the online MP3. Why not?
10. Your links for my songs go to websites that I don't like. Can you change that?
11. Do you realize that some of your links are broken?
12. The database would be more helpful if songs were classified by subject.
13. Have these songs been checked for accuracy?
14. If I can access a full song via a link from the database, does that mean the song is free of copyright restrictions?
15. Does it cost any money to have one's songs entered into the database?
16. Why exactly are you doing this, anyway?
17. Aren't STEM songs just for rote memorization of facts?
18. How does the database handle controversial topics?
19. How do the ratings by age range work?
20. Does the database cover "out-of-print" recordings?
21. Are there STEM-inspired instrumental songs (no words) in the database?
22. Are the search results sortable?
23. Can you provide examples of search queries that lead to good songs?


1. What happened to "MASSIVE"?

You have found the current incarnation of MASSIVE (Math And Science Song Information, Viewable Everywhere), which was founded by Greg Crowther in 2004. In discussing how to integrate MASSIVE with the rest of the Sing About Science and Math project, it was decided that the acronym of MASSIVE was potentially confusing or uninformative to newcomers and that this acronym should be de-emphasized in favor of the more self-explanatory "Sing About Science" banner.

2. What qualifies as a STEM song?

Deciding whether a song is about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and/or Mathematics) is admittedly arbitrary to some extent. Songs whose lyrics are primarily about STEM concepts, STEM researchers, and/or the process of doing STEM all qualify for inclusion in the database. Songs that reflect on the role of STEM in society, portrayals of STEM in the media, etc. may also be included.

3. Does the database contain links to every known STEM song?

No. The database is an attempt to index all songs for which "professional" recordings have been made, plus additional songs that appear to be of high quality and/or are likely of special interest to STEM professionals, teachers, and/or students. Given the proliferation of music videos on YouTube and other websites, we can't possibly keep track of all of the STEM ones ourselves. Suggestions from others are much appreciated. (See Question #8 below.)

4. How many songs are covered by the database?

The number of songs in the database is continually changing, as new songs are added each month. When the database first went live in March 2004, it included entries for about 1400 songs. As of February 2013, over 6500 songs are represented.

5. Why can't I play some of the sound samples listed in the database?

Sound files on the Internet come in a variety of formats, some of which require special software to hear. For example, .ra, .ram, and .rm files are designed for RealPlayer, whereas .wma files are designed for Windows Media Player.

6. Why doesn't the database include many songs on the environment, fitness, nutrition, etc.?

It's our intention to keep the database focused mostly on STEM per se rather than the intersection of STEM with other areas. While we acknowledge the importance of interdisciplinary thinking, we have defined the scope of the database somewhat narrowly so that we can keep it up-to-date with limited resources.

7. Why do I find few songs when I search using a really general keyword?

Keywords are compared with song titles and song lyrics. If a search term (e.g., "geology") isn't in the title or the lyrics of a song, the song won't be listed in the search results even if it is a song about some aspect of geology. Because of this, we encourage you to enter keywords that are somewhat specific, like "volcano" or "igneous."

8. Why doesn't the database include So-and-so's fabulous ballad about the Fick equation?

We are probably unaware that it exists. Email crowther@uw.edu to request that it be added.

9. Song X is listed in the database, but there's no link to the online MP3. Why not?

Again, it's probably a case of ignorance. Email crowther@uw.edu, and all will be made right.

10. Your links for my songs go to websites that I don't like. Can you change that?

Yes. If you have requests to change the links associated with your songs, send email to crowther@uw.edu.

11. Do you realize that some of your links are broken?

We check for and replace broken links "periodically" -- by which we mean "not quite often enough." Email crowther@uw.edu to report broken links.

12. The database would be more helpful if songs were classified by subject.

That's not really a question, is it? We've been reluctant to classify songs in this way because it would require a lot of additional work. We may provide such classifications in the future if we receive funding to improve the database.

13. Have these songs been checked for accuracy?

We believe most of these songs to be reasonably accurate, but we don't make any guarantees. A possible future direction of the project would be to host feedback on the songs.

14. If I can access a full song via a link from the database, does that mean the song is free of copyright restrictions?

No, not necessarily. In general, we try to avoid web pages and files that appear to represent unauthorized copying and posting. However, even musicians' freely downloadable recordings of their own songs may carry some restrictions. When in doubt, check with the creators of the songs.

15. Does it cost any money to have one's songs entered into the database?

Nope -- it's free! If you want to thank us for the "advertising," feel free to send us copies of your recordings. (They can be mailed to: Greg Crowther, Box 357185, University of Washington, Seattle WA 98195-7185, USA.)

16. Why exactly are you doing this, anyway?

We believe that STEM songs can often reach people in ways that traditional lectures and discussions cannot. However, people generally find it difficult to locate songs that are to their liking both musically and content-wise. We hope that this database will connect STEM fans with music that they like ... and that it will connect musicians and music fans with STEM content that they like!

17. Aren't STEM songs just for rote memorization of facts?

Absolutely not! STEM songs have numerous educational and non-educational uses. They can be used to entertain, inspire, provoke critical thinking, combat stereotypes about scientists, and so on.

18. How does the database handle controversial topics?

The database's commitment to inclusivity applies to controversial topics as well. While songs that simply engage in name-calling are not about STEM per se and are not included, songs that cover scientific aspects of "hot-button" topics such as evolution and global warming most certainly are included.

19. How do the ratings by age range work?

For songs that seem intended primarily for students (rather than "all ages" or the general public), we estimate the ages of normally developing kids for which the songs are "ideal." This range does NOT cover everyone who may find the songs enjoyable or useful. Our estimates are subjective and error-prone (for example, we tend to assign the same age range to all songs on a given album) and should be used only as a rough guide. In general, we limit age ranges to five years or less. Kindergarten is considered to be ages 5-6, elementary school 6-12, middle school 11-14, high school 14-18, college 18-22, and graduate school 22-25. (These age ranges are used for simplicity and are not meant as a slight against nontraditional students.)

20. Does the database cover "out-of-print" recordings?

That depends on the recording. We intend to continue to list songs that were sold commercially even if they are no longer available for purchase. On the other hand, listings for individuals' free, self-produced YouTube videos and MP3 files may be deleted once those recordings are no longer available.

21. Are there STEM-inspired instrumental songs (no words) in the database?

There are few if any at present. Though we acknowledge that lyrics are not the only way of incorporating STEM into music, we don't feel qualified to judge whether or not a given wordless song is "scientific," "mathematical," etc. (Our judgments are subjective enough even for songs with words; see Question #2 above.)

22. Are the search results sortable?

Yes, assuming that your web browser has JavaScript enabled. Click on a column header (Song Title, Song Template, etc.) to order the results according to the data in that column. Click again on the same header to reverse the order.

23. Can you provide examples of search queries that lead to good songs?

Certainly! Below is a table showing some of the many possibilities.

TOPIC KEYWORDS (from lyrics or song titles)
Advanced stuff Ampere's law; ant anatomy; aprotic solvents; null hypothesis; quantum decoupling
Cells cell theory; DNA; enzyme; genome; microscope; organelle
Chemistry atomic; chemical reaction; compound; H2O; periodic table
Computers binary; circuit; hardware; programming
Energy electricity; natural gas; nuclear power; solar; wind energy
Exploring earth archaeologist; dinosaur; fossil; geologist; geology; soils; volcano
Human body brain; circulation; digestion; five senses; heart; infection; nerve
Math denominator; probability; square root; statistic; theorem
Nature water cycle; photosynthesis; erosion; marine; carbon dioxide; global warming
Space lunar; Mars; Pluto; galaxy; satellite; rocket
Sports acceleration; exercise; muscles; velocity
Weather climate; clouds; forecast; precipitation
 
GRADE/TOPIC PERFORMER/SONGWRITER
Astronomy Chromatics
Biochemistry Kevin Ahern
Elementary school Bill Nye; Bob Dorough; David Newman; Science Explosion; They Might Be Giants; Tim Griffin Tom Glazer
Environmental science Banana Slug String Band
Food safety Carl Winter
Math Marc Gutman
Middle school Doug Edmonds; Lodge McCammon; Monty Harper; Mr. Lee; Mr. Parr; Mrs. Harveylicious
Physics Walter Smith
Varied David Haines; John Boswell; Jonathan Coulton; Tom McFadden