Science Pop Music from NIHERST

Science, creativity and musical flair came together in NIHERST’s Science Music Video Competition over 3 cycles, 2012 to 2014. Individuals and teams across Trinidad and Tobago between the ages of 14 and 28, submitted “edutaining” videos focussed on important development issues such as: climate change, renewable energy, water security and rainwater harvesting, family farming and small- island developing states. Drawing on the popularity of user-generated content and the rise of viral videos in social media, the competition seeks to encourage young people to creatively engage with hot topics in science, technology and innovation (STI), generating accessible and entertaining new material to promote STI knowledge to the general public. The music videos reflected a range of genres from hip-hop to spoken word to dancehall.

Six weeks of mentorship during which draft scripts were critiqued by science personnel so as to assist participants in achieving stronger scientific messages in their music videos. The mentorship encouraged: research, use of factual information as opposed to opinions or here say; finding a focal point and a channel of direction for the topic chosen; and making science fun and understandable. Participants employed the knowledge, insights and tools made available to them during a 3-day training workshop, to produce an array of entertaining videos with strong potential to increase public interest in and understanding of the issues covered, and their impact on human life and development.

This competition encouraged youth to buy into the importance of communicating science to the public, and being the voice of their generation to spread important, impactful messages about national development. A total of $114,000 in prize money was awarded to finalists, with a first prize of $40,000.

Whilst 2014 is the last year for this competition, NIHERST sees it is necessary to explore other unconventional and exciting ways to build awareness of STI as major forces for diversifying the national economy, increasing global competitiveness, and providing solutions to pressing national problems.

All winning videos over the 3 year period are available on the NIHERST YouTube channel.