Science Project + Daughter + Dad = iTunes Hit?

Geek Culture

I’m going to guess that most GeekDads love science (and they love even more that their kids love science) So, when a child comes home with a science project and you happen to have a bent for the musical side of things, what do you do? If you’re like Chris and Maggie Arias, you write a song about it and publish on iTunes and Amazon.

NOAA's National Weather Service (NWS) Collection Location: Alaska, Anchorage Photo Date: 1977 Photographer: Doctor Yohsuke Kamide, Nagoya University Credit: Collection of Dr. Herbert Kroehl, NGDCNOAA's National Weather Service (NWS) Collection Location: Alaska, Anchorage Photo Date: 1977 Photographer: Doctor Yohsuke Kamide, Nagoya University Credit: Collection of Dr. Herbert Kroehl, NGDC

Public Domain photo taken by Doctor Yohsuke Kamide. Part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration photo library

Maggie, a 6th grader, had a science project — the topic was one that she was able to choose — about Aurora Borealis. The original assignment was to create a paper, poster, or PowerPoint presentation containing at least five paragraphs of information. She asked her teacher if she could instead write a song and her teacher agreed.

When she got home, she asked her dad, a Chemical Engineer-turned-musician, for help. Chris described it this way:

She came home and announced that she wanted to write a song about the aurora borealis. ‘Okay,’ I said. ‘Sounds fun!’ What we came up with was indeed a very fun song. It starts out as a sweet little ballad then goes somewhere surprising in the second verse. The main thing we wanted to get across in the song, in addition to the pertinent scientific facts, was the way this violent cosmic event was transformed into something so quiet and beautiful.

It was a hit at school! Some of her classmates asked where they could download it. She came home and asked if we could put it on the iTunes store. So I did a little research and her science project is now on iTunes. It’s also on Amazon.

I also was interested in the dad/daughter creative process that went on. It was a great mix of creativity and geekery to create Aurora.

On the creative side, Aurora starts as a ballad with a surprise dance beat coming in after the first chorus. Chris describes it as a “happy accident” and one that snapshots Maggie’s personality. You can check out the lyrics at Real Science. You can also grab a copy from iTunes or Amazon.

On the science side, both Maggie and Chris were fascinated with the energy involved in Aurora Borealis. To quote Maggie, “it is way, way, way more than lightning here, Dad!” and to quote Chris “it was mind-boggling.”

Then, there is the gear and the software that went into creating the song:

  • MacBook Pro
  • Logic Studio (utilizing stock instruments and loops)
  • 3rd-party plugins from Wave
  • Vocals were recorded in the basement with Focusrite Saffire Pro 40 interface and an AKG C4000 microphone

My last question was if the song-writing duo would have other projects in the works as Maggie moves through school. Chris said:

“It’s funny. We certainly never planned on this turning into what it has become. I probably would’ve made the track a little thicker and more interesting in places, but the serendipity of it is part of its charm. That said, several teachers have asked if we’ve thought of doing other songs. I’m going to see if there are other topics Maggie would like to sing about. I was thinking it would be cool do maybe do a few songs on science, a few on math, language arts, etc. It’s always fun for me, but I only want to do it as long as it’s fun for Maggie.”

It was fun learning how this project unfolded for Chris and Maggie. It was great that a science teacher was willing to flex his/her students’ creative side. It was cool getting a quick peek into lives of a GeekDad and his daughter, and I love that both of their interests came together to create a life-long memory. Now, stop reading and go download their song!

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