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17 October 2019 The Sound of Music & Its Effect on Biological Systems: Project-Based Learning Tapping into Adolescents' Interests
Josef de Beer
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Science education often fails to address the actual range of adolescents' interests. One such interest is music. Research shows that young people devote large amounts of time and money to music. By tapping into students' interest in music, affective outcomes can be achieved in the biology classroom. This article describes a project-based learning activity that studies the influence of music on seed germination. Part of the student project is to conduct a literature search on the influence of music on plants, and possibly also on people (its biological, psychological, and social effects). The project is contextualized in the indigenous practice of making music while planting crops. There is a growing body of literature suggesting that music can improve crop yields. Students are required to follow the key features of project-based learning to plan and execute an inquiry to determine the influence of music on seed germination. Students undertaking a literature study will find research showing that music affects the viscosity of the plasmalemma and the availability of intercellular Ca2+, which, in turn, influences the activity of membrane-based enzymes. This can lead to larger amounts of water, nutrients, and growth regulators entering the plant cell. The article also reflects on data obtained from high school biology students as they engage in the learning activity.

© 2019 National Association of Biology Teachers. All rights reserved. Please direct all requests for permission to photocopy or reproduce article content through the University of California Press's Reprints and Permissions web page,
Josef de Beer "The Sound of Music & Its Effect on Biological Systems: Project-Based Learning Tapping into Adolescents' Interests," The American Biology Teacher 81(7), 507-512, (17 October 2019).
Published: 17 October 2019

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affective domain
Indigenous knowledge
project-based learning
seed germination
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