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Lackawanna students enjoy STEM-themed rap performance

Ashley Hirtzel

A Scientist known as the “Grand Hank” took to the stage at Lackawanna High School Wednesday to promote STEM education.The interactive presentation hosted by the American Petroleum Institute allowed kids to dance and sing along to science-themed rap music. The event also included experiments with fire and other combustible materials.

Tyraine Ragsdale, who goes by the stage name “Grand Hank,” has been doing the presentations at schools across the country for more than 25 years. He says the idea is to get students excited about science, technology, engineering, and math related careers.

“Science is all around us and it’s part of our everyday lives. Our kids are doing science, but a lot of times they don’t recognize that they are actually doing science. The goal is to package it in a way so that they see things from their everyday lives and the principles behind them and how science plays an important role,” said Ragsdale.

Ragsdale said he uses rap in his presentations as a pneumonic device to help kids to remember the basics of science.

Credit Ashley Hirtzel / WBFO News
Lackawanna students get excited about the STEM presentation.

“Music is how we communicate, music is in everything. Kids walk around singing all kinds of stuff, why can’t we integrate science into these components so that they can actually learn something and walk around rapping about something that’s meaningful, that can help improve the quality of their lives?,” said Ragsdale

Superintendent of the Lackawanna School District Anne Spadone says she hopes students realize STEM is their future.

"To engage kids in our immediate area they need to see things like this. They need to be able to connect to the people that are presenting and they need to be aware that this gentleman is highly educated and he is a rapper. He can speak their language and hopefully he can impress them and encourage them to take a look at science as a future, because that’s really where the jobs are and the future is,” said Spadone.

The Grand Hank’s next stop is the Charter School for Applied Technologies Friday morning.