Learning and cognition research has shown repeatedly that different people learn in different ways. I learn by taking notes in class or as I read. The act of writing and rephrasing concepts in my own words really works for me. I remember taking exams in college and being able to picture, down to the most minute doodle or smudge, my page of notes about a topic. Of course, usually I could see everything on the page, except the part I needed to answer the exam question–that was usually trapped white space in my memory.
Some people prefer just listening to a conversation. Others need more hands-on experience: actually building the molecule to understand it, or even choreographing the steps nerve impulse transmission. There’s no right or wrong way to learn, and I suspect that using a variety of learning strategies leads to a more well rounded understanding of complex topics (although I have absolutely no data to support that notion).
Music can be another way to reinforce concepts, show associations and interaction. The Great Beyond Blog on Nature has done a terrific job of rounding up “songs about science“. Accomplished scientists will appreciate these works of art about the art work of the natural world. Students will appreciate these as ways to grasp complex topics, and instructors will appreciate these as ways to liven up a lecture about vesicle trafficking or meiosis.
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