Biology raps, works of art stem from Durham Tech extra credit

Dorothy Wood understands Biology is not for everyone. Most students are fulfilling a general education requirement while a small few share her enthusiasm for the subject.

“I’ve been teaching this same subject for 15 years and there’s not a single day I’ve been bored with it,” said Wood, Biology Instructor at Durham Technical Community College. “Every class dynamic is different. It’s always a joy really.”

Last year, one of her students gave her an idea.

“I had a young fellow, Randy McGilvary, who claimed he was not a scientist so I asked him, ‘If you’re not a scientist then what are you?’ He said ‘I’m an artist,’ so it got me thinking. I said ‘What if I gave you an opportunity to showcase that?’ He said ‘I would love that!’ He submitted a hand drawn portrait of Charles Darwin and that’s what started it all.”

At the midpoint of each semester, Wood offers students an extra credit assignment to showcase their creative side as it relates to Biology.

The responses are one-of-a-kind.

“I’m absolutely overjoyed to see the effort they put in to these projects,” Wood said. “I’m like a proud mother hen when they do this. That they care enough about the course to do the projects and the pride they show when doing the work is really a delight.”


This year she received two raps, a biology trivia board game, cakes that represent the principals of osmosis, a batch of cookies that show cell division, and several drawings showcasing biological organisms.

One of her students, Tyler Laws, 19, spent Thanksgiving Day recording a rap about mitosis.

“I wanted to rap about mitosis because that process is really important to me because my mom had breast cancer,” Laws said. “So when we were learning about that unit I was really interested in learning about how tumors form. I’m not very artistic when it comes to drawing, but in the past I’ve done poetry and really enjoyed it so I thought I’d put together a biology rap.”

Abbey Downing, 19, wrote an extensive rap about her experience in the class and various biology lessons.

Wood enjoys getting to know her students better through this project and looks forward to the responses she’ll receive next semester.

“I judge them on their ability to answer questions about science, but I don’t know a thing about them otherwise,” Wood said. “So I just wanted to give them a chance to showcase what they can do if they’re doing science simply as a general education requirement. They never cease to amaze me.”

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