In my last blog, I spoke about selecting my summer teaching assistant and the various trials and tribulations I had. Now, I am going to share with you the shining jewel of our time together which was one of the key reasons I hired her over everyone else.
I have previously blogged about fun science parody music videos, so I am clearly a fan of presenting science in non-traditional formats. When we decided to submit a CIRM Creativity grant application at the end of last year, it gave us the chance to really think outside the box. Two of our more creative ideas were to make a music video parody and also perform a flash mob! This is why we were specifically looking for someone with creative talents. While we could come up with the idea, it is unlikely that we would be able to deliver the end product with aplomb.
We actually ended up doing both ideas, but I am going to share the music parody with you here. If you would like to watch the magic, the link is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WiMfTEnZdNg . All 8 CIRM creativity students were involved with every step of the process with the TA.
The choice of the song was possibly one of the most challenging. They chose “Broken Hearted” by Karmin, which I was unfamiliar with. There is nothing like being made to feel uncool and old because you have no idea what they are talking about!! They listened to the song multiple times and rewrote the lyrics to reflect their summer experience in the academy and the CIRM creativity program.
Because the TA had a musical back ground, and the majority of the students either played instruments or danced, I think they found this part relatively easy. I even managed to write a line! (Listen out for goggles on my front, lab coat on my back during the rap for my contribution!!) Many of the students suggested lyrics, and then they chose the best ones for that section of the song. One of the students does a lot of singing, so she volunteered to perform the main part. After a few practice runs, the three singers recorded the new version of the song, and it was ready for filming.
We booked the student lab for filming, and they also used prime campus locations. I was unable to participate, but my faith in them all paid off when I saw the footage. I was actually in a meeting and could see them dancing through the window at one point. It was certainly hard to keep a straight face and concentrate on the discussion points as they got their groove on outside! We were exceptionally fortunate that one of the other summer academy students is a keep animator and can edit videos. She kindly accepted the opportunity to edit the video for us, and over a few weeks the video took shape. It was fun to see the evolution of the video as special effects were added.
During this entire process, I was extremely relaxed as the students and TA were doing all the work. Once we had the video, however, we needed to get it officially approved before it could be posted anywhere. This is where I began to get nervous. What would people at work think? Yes, everyone usually loves the parodies, but would it be acceptable that we had done one? What would CIRM think?
We need not have worried. Everyone loved it. It has been described as various things from cute to inspirational. It has set a standard for our creative aspect for the summer academy which we are going to try and beat next year. CIRM even mentioned it in their official blog which was a lovely surprise. I am currently working on updating the summer academy website information, and I would love to include the video to show the new adventures our students are having.
I am so proud of all the students involved and my TA. I know that I couldn’t have done it and am grateful that they took the crazy idea and made it a reality. By putting my faith in their abilities and trusting them, the summer program has grown and will hopefully continue to do so over the years.
While a parody had previously never been done, it has set off a video trend on campus. I was involved in filming a Christmas related parody last week which may never have been dreamed up if it weren’t for our trend setting/ground breaking video. The parable I am trying to say is that we should constantly strive to stretch our boundaries and try new things. Even though it was a little scary and worrying while we waited to see what the reaction to the video was, it may have paved the way for future fun video projects on campus. Just as we are willing to take scientific risks with our experiments, we should also be open to expanding ourselves outside the lab.