Monday, June 17

Students mix chemistry and music


For class and CityLab, undergraduates create videos that are instructional yet fun

From left to right, assistant chemistry professor Neil Garg with third-year students Yannick Goeb, Kim Bui and Justin Bañaga, who made a chemistry music video.

	Courtesy of Justin Bañaga

From left to right, assistant chemistry professor Neil Garg with third-year students Yannick Goeb, Kim Bui and Justin Bañaga, who made a chemistry music video.

Courtesy of Justin Bañaga

Stephen Stewart / Daily Bruin


It’s relatively unheard of ““ a chemistry music video.

Tell that to three UCLA students, whose video “Chemistry Jock” has garnered more than 25,000 views on YouTube.

“When we first made the video and uploaded it onto YouTube, we were just joking,” Kim Bui said, a third-year molecular, cell and developmental biology student. “Never would I imagine it would break 5,000 (views).”

Bui, along with Yannick Goeb and Justin Bañaga, who are both third-year physiological science students, made a music video as an extra credit assignment for their Chemistry 14D class last spring. Their teacher, assistant chemistry professor Neil Garg, offered the project as a way for students to uniquely approach the study of organic chemistry.

“Chemistry can be very dry,” Garg said. “I mentioned it casually as a possibility of an extra credit assignment and people were interested.”

Inspired by other chemistry videos online, the three students decided to take up Garg’s challenge and make a music video. Using the song “BedRock” by Young Money, each of them wrote their own lyrics and brought the pieces together during several days of filming.

They were not the only ones to submit a video though − 140 students ended up submitting a total of 61 videos. Garg, along with his teaching assistants, watched and judged all the videos for the possibility of 15 extra credit points, depending on the quality of the video. Garg ended the last several days of class that quarter by showing the videos he and his teaching assistants thought were the best.

“It was definitely surprising,” Bañaga said when he saw that his video was one of the best in the class. “We knew the other ones were really good too, so we weren’t sure how many were good.”

Thanks to Garg, the video has been featured on a number of science websites. In response to this popularity, the three students recently decided to make a sequel to their video.

Their new video, “Doing ELISA,” uses the song “All the Above” by Maino and T-Pain. The song focuses on ELISA, a lab technique that allows for the detection of antigens in the body.

While the first video was just for extra credit, “Doing ELISA” was part of a presentation the group delivered for CityLab ““ a program that brings underprivileged high school students to UCLA, where undergraduate students teach them molecular biology and various laboratory techniques. CityLab was founded in 1992 at Boston University and is now offered at UCLA as an upper-division class.

Bañaga, who persuaded Bui and Goeb to join CityLab this fall, wanted their presentation to be different from the normal PowerPoint presentations and lectures.

“We thought we would make a second video and inspire them about science,” he said. “(We wanted) to show that learning can be creative.”

The group showed their videos to three separate groups of high school students over the course of the day.

“The kids that we brought in had never seen our (first) video,” Bañaga said about their successful presentations. “They seemed to like it. They came up to us and were very excited at the end.”

The three students are not the first at CityLab to use video instruction.

Kevin Terashima, a fourth-year neuroscience student and the executive co-director of CityLab, made the music video “Central Dogma Song Sing along” when he taught the central dogma of molecular biology for CityLab. Terashima, whose music video helped inspire “Chemistry Jock,” also appeared in “Doing ELISA.”

Garg plans on offering the extra credit assignment again next spring. While the three students have no plans for making more videos in the future, other students will have the chance to live up to the reputation set by “Chemistry Jock.”

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