Franklin Middle School students erupted into laughter Monday at the sight of their teachers bumping bellies while wearing sumo wrestling suits at a hip-hop physics assembly.
About 375 students in their second week at the newly reopened school cheered and danced in the school gymnasium during the FMA Live! Forces in Motion program, which embraces a hip-hop concert format to inspire science and math students.
Franklin is a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) community school that just reopened as a Minneapolis district school after being sold to a charter school in 2009. Students from Lucy Laney, Nellie Stone Johnson and Bethune elementary schools feed into Franklin.
The traveling 45-minute show, founded by Honeywell and NASA, teaches Sir Isaac Newton’s laws of motion and his universal law of gravity through hip-hop songs and interactive activities.
Three of the onstage performers sang lyrics like, “Newton’s third law, this is what it be, everything you push, pushes back equally” to demonstrate the scientific principles of action and reaction to the students.
Sometimes students are intimidated by STEM courses, but the performance helped make it accessible, said Franklin Middle School Principal Karon Cunningham.
“It brought it to life for the kids,” she said.
Students jumped up and raised their hands in the air when asked to participate in the show. Janeisha Fullilove, 11, and Iyonna Riddley, 14, volunteered to springboard up onto a Velcro wall to demonstrate Newton’s first law of inertia.
Iyonna said the concert strengthened her love of science. “It encouraged me to do something in science when I get older,” she said.
FMA Live has traveled to more than 1,100 schools since its start in 2004. The concert kicked off its 2015 tour with Franklin Middle School.
The name FMA is a play on Newton’s second law, which deals with force, mass and acceleration.
The performers used a soccer trick to teach that law. Shalonda Cunningham, 11, kicked three soccer balls into a goal net. To prove the law that force is equal to mass multiplied by acceleration, Cunningham tried to push a human-sized soccer ball into the net.
During the final act, students put all three laws together by hurling balls at a target that released yellow slime onto their teacher.
FMA Live also provides teachers with classroom resources, and students can sign up for its space camp scholarships.
The event wrapped up with a video of space-related career opportunities so students understood that astronauts aren’t the only ones who work for NASA.
“Every rock star needs an entourage,” said Karen Howell, the school’s media specialist and computer class teacher.
The concert, she said, helped students realize that their futures are rich with possibilities.