Local teacher uses dancing, popular music to teach science

The teacher says outside-the-box teaching technique has made test scores soar

SAN ANTONIO – If you’re a sixth-grader sitting in class at 8 a.m., science may seem difficult. Now, a local teacher at IDEA Harvey E. Najim school is using music, dancing and fun to get her students interested in science.

For someone standing in the hallway, Lea McFarthing’s 6th grade class might look like a music class or recess, but it’s actually a science class. “If they can learn the lyrics to Cardi B, then they can definitely learn about potential kinetic energy through music too,” McFarthing said.

McFarthing took over as the teacher for the class less than two months ago. She decided to implement an outside-the-box approach to learning. “My goal was to make it fun for them. I have talked to several parents and they’re all, like, they talk about science all the time now. I even sent links of the songs that I use to parents, so that way they can do it at home, as well,” McFarthing said.

McFarthing gave her students a challenge of coming up with music of their own. Nyla Ellis, 11, accepted the challenge and wrote a rap song. “I just thought to myself: ‘Hey, I like rapping. I love science in my school. Put it together!’” Ellis said.

McFarthing said using music to teach gets kids excited and enthusiastic about science, but it’s also leading to better test scores. “[In] our unit two test we ranked, I think it was number five. But our last test, we made our mark and we hit number one,” McFarthing said. “Number one out of 96 schools.”

“I can say that since Mrs. McFarthing took over in mid-September, the children are always talking about science. They love going to class and it’s just full of joy. So, yeah, it worked out well,” Principal Theresa Hall said.

About the Authors:

Max Massey is the GMSA weekend anchor and a general assignments reporter. Max has been live at some of the biggest national stories out of Texas in recent years, including the Sutherland Springs shooting, Hurricane Harvey and the manhunt for the Austin bomber. Outside of work, Max follows politics and sports, especially Penn State, his alma mater.

Luis Cienfuegos is a photographer at KSAT 12.