Franklin Vs Watson and Crick

Wow! This is exactly the kind of thing I’ve been hoping to see more of! When the report on this started on NPR about having students do music and video about science topics, I groaned a bit (while making breakfast) when I heard the Watson and Crick mentions in the clip in the background, saying to myself that it is so unfair that once again, Rosalind Franklin is being forgotten and a whole bunch of kids will miss the opportunity to learn about the nuances involved in doing science, and miss that she did such crucial work on this most important discovery…. I continued making my coffee, listening to the report with half an ear…. and then! …more of the clip was played and a girl’s voice came on, singing a bit about Rosalind Franklin, and then I realized that this was exactly the story they were telling in the video*. The whole NPR report, by Adam Cole, is here, with a short video doc. It is about not just the Rap B.A.T.T.L.E.S. doing songs and videos about various science topics, but also about other programs as well, started by people such as Christopher Emdin at Columbia, and others. Excellent.

I’ve embedded the Franklin/Watson/Crick video below. It was made by students in the Bay area, guided by Tom McFadden at Stanford. I think this is great piece of work since they did a great job on production, particularly with casting and costuming everyone to play the principals, cutting in reaction shots and so forth… It’s a real film! And for a change, for a popular rap about science that a wide variety of young people might be attracted to, this time the music is actual contemporary rap (which usually means well thought out lyrics combined with rhythmic devices that are definitely post 1980s, and not just a bunch of lines recited over a corny background beat – see another excellent example at the end of this post) which is great! An amusing and poignant extract:

It has not escaped my notice that you’re a jerk.
I should have got a Nobel for my work.
But then I died so we’ll never know.
But it’s not too late to recognize me though.


(Direct link here.)

Be sure to have a look at the video of the winner of the Rap B.A.T.T.L.E.S. competition, “Quest for Joulelry”, by Jabari Johnson.

This is all very timely for me since I’ve been working on some new plans for the new year of the USC Science Film Competition, and this gives me yet another great example to point to for students looking for ideas.


*By the way, an excellent telling of the story, if you want to know more, is Brenda Maddox’s great book from a few years back, “Rosalind Frankling, the Dark Lady of DNA”. I may have mentioned it on the blog here before.

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5 Responses to Franklin Vs Watson and Crick

  1. Supernova says:

    Brilliant! What an awesome class project!

  2. Clifford says:

    Great work!


  3. Amy says:

    This is amazing! Can’t wait for more!