The Best Part Of Science

by Tim Griffin, copyright 2018

 

In the ancient days, you know, when the wind began to blow

And the clouds up in the sky began to blacken

All the folk were badly frightened; was it Neptune or Poseidon?

Were they fightin’ with a titan or a kraken?

Then the lightning would flash and a thunderclap would crash

Was is Zeus or was it Set or Feng Po Po?

Maybe Thor and Dionysus would accept our sacrifices

But we really didn’t have a way to know

 

Then some people wondered whether we could understand the weather

And together, started studying the air

We began to build barometers and mercury thermometers

Hygrometers for knowledge we could share

We collected lots of data and began to find a way to

Say just what we think the weather’s gonna do

So now instead of mere mythology we have meteorology…

And the best part of science is it’s true.  (Literally, that is; we can predict the weather now.)

 

In the ancient days when millions of people died of illnesses

Like polio, pertussis, and rubella

We imagined horrid horsemen who would gallop on their course and

Make a corpse of any lady or a fella

We could try to help our odds, sacrificing to the gods

Making ointments out of rhino horn and poo

And a lot of people thought that it was working; it was not

But we had no way of telling what was true.  (No scientific method back then…)

 

Now today, if you get ill with a fever or a chill

Modern doctors make a careful diagnosis

And instead of making guesses we have rigorous processes

For prevention, predication and prognosis

While with better sanitation and effective vaccinations

We have kept entire nations from their graves

Because instead of mere mythology we have microbiology…

And the best part of science is it saves.   (Lives, that is… millions of ‘em.)

 

 

So when you come across a fossil of a creature that’s colossal

Or you see a star that’s moving in the sky

Don’t assume that it’s a fairy or a dragon mean and scary

You can figure out what’s happening if you try

You know a myth’s an allegory but it’s really just a story

So enjoy it for the way it makes you feel

Ah, but when you start to wonder why the lightning and the thunder…

The greatest part of science, my favorite part of science,

The best part of science is it’s real.  (Whether you believe in it or not.)

 

Notes

This song came out of a recent discussion with a classroom of third graders. The kids had been reading myths as part of their introduction to different genres of fiction, and a very clever girl pointed out that to the people who originally told those stories, the myths were not fiction but a serious effort to understand the world. We discussed how myth and science both come from our basic need to explain how the world around us came to be, and to gain some sense of agency within it. The main difference, of course, is that science includes a mechanism for testing to see what actually works; whereas testing to see what kind of sacrifice Neptune preferred (if anyone ever actually tried it) would only lead to the conclusion that Neptune is an awfully moody god, and probably a jerk besides.

Here are some academic standards from the Common Core addressed by this song.

CC.RL.3.2. Recount stories, including fables, folktales, and myths from diverse cultures; determine the central message, lesson, or moral and explain how it is conveyed through key details in the text.

CC.RI.3.3. Describe the relationship between a series of historical events, scientific ideas or concepts, or steps in technical procedures in a text, using language that pertains to time, sequence, and cause/effect.

CC.RF.3.3. Know and apply grade-level phonics and word analysis skills in decoding words. Identify and know the meaning of the most common prefixes and derivational suffixes. Decode words with common Latin suffixes. Decode multisyllable words. Read grade-appropriate irregularly spelled words.

CC.RL.4.9. Compare and contrast the treatment of similar themes and topics (e.g., opposition of good and evil) and patterns of events (e.g., the quest) in stories, myths, and traditional literature from different cultures.

CC.RI.4.3. Explain events, procedures, ideas, or concepts in a historical, scientific, or technical text, including what happened and why, based on specific information in the text.

CC.RF.4.3. Know and apply grade-level phonics and word analysis skills in decoding words. Use combined knowledge of all letter-sound correspondences, syllabication patterns, and morphology (e.g., roots and affixes) to read accurately unfamiliar multisyllabic words in context and out of context.

CC.RI.5.3. Explain the relationships or interactions between two or more individuals, events, ideas, or concepts in a historical, scientific, or technical text based on specific information in the text.

CC.RF.5.3. Know and apply grade-level phonics and word analysis skills in decoding words.

a. Use combined knowledge of all letter-sound correspondences, syllabication patterns, and morphology (e.g., roots and affixes) to read accurately unfamiliar multisyllabic words in context and out of context.

 

Chords: C, G, G7, C7, F, A, D