Hip Hop Education and Athletics Engaging Urban and Refugee Youth


Simplicity in life is a lofty goal that I will be addressing in this blog as the next few months arrive upon my doorstep.  I feel that it is important to document my progress in developing some new interests and directions in my life.  The two new interests that I would like to bring into my life in a major way is mobile app software development and athletics skills development in rock climbing, weight lifting, track and road running, and bicycling.  The unifying theme in the development of these interests is in remaining consistent in adhering to a new routine of rigorous discipline as I start my graduate program in education at Georgia State University this summer.  The major effort of my life at present is performing civil service with AmeriCorps at the International Rescue Committee and Clarkston High School.  The major thrust of my daily work will transition over to getting a high school science instruction teaching certificate and a Master of Arts in Teaching degree from Georgia State University.  I do not think it is enough to get this degree and focus on just becoming a teacher.  I think that I need to learn and execute a rigorous program of educational software development to supplement my work in the classroom and to engage students in their work.  Also, I think in teaching high school I would like to become heavily involved in athletics coaching and practice.  Thus, I am interested in developing software development and athletics in my training this year at Georgia State in graduate school.  The unifying theme of all my activities will be to carefully document my progress in developing my interests via this blog.   If anything, I will keep myself accountable by public review of my days in the upcoming year.  I will also be able to share my progress as time progresses in the goals of restoring my athletic abilities and in developing a skill in computer and mobile computing programming.

Regarding the interests in developing educational software for use in public school teaching I am extremely interested in software that seeks to engage urban and at risk youth.  Perhaps I will be able to capitalize on the recent interest in Hip Hop and science education that I have seen in the news with the work of Christopher Emdin displayed here.  The Hip Hop and science education for urban youth conversation is regularly performed on Twitter each Tuesday using the hashtag #HipHopEd.  I am interested in becoming a regular participant in this conversation.  Recently, I got a book out of the Emory library that contains a chapter about Dr. Emdin’s work with Hip Hop and science education.  My interest in contributing to this initiative is in developing educational software that can be used as a support for students and teachers who are trying to conduct Hip Hop based education.  I have an idea for a mobile app for both Android and iPhone that displays lyrics for students to rap and sing along to as they work on developing skills to participate in what Emdin calls a cypher.  A Hip Hop education cypher is a circle of students and teachers that collectively share in carrying out a rap about a particular topic.  Emdin’s contribution is to say that the cypher can be about something related to education.  My idea for a mobile app is to first develop a basic skill in Java and Objective-C programming and then carry out Android and then iPhone development of a visually appealing app that students can use to carry out #HipHopEd cyphers.  To this end, I have a book on Java that I will read starting today.  I will install the javac compiler and java runtime environment on my Macintosh computer for use in developing the software.  First, I will focus on Android development since I see Android overtaking the iPhone as a mobile computing platform in the mass market in the same way that Windows dominates the desktop market.  My question is how do I monetize the software once I develop it.  I have recently seek that Google Play has an education section that I could upload the package to.  I do not know if a similar site exists for iPhone.  The education Android Google Play store review can be seen here.  To get a working #HipHopEd app on Android and iPhone may take a year or two, but would be well worth the effort in its ability to build my education career.


My interest in athletics is simple.  I want to be able to coach high school sports with authenticity and to take epic outdoor vacations on my summers off from teaching.  I want to get back down to 170 lbs. so I can rock climb effectively at a high level.  I never was able to break 5.11 climbing and I want to be able to break into climbing 5.12 and 5.13 at some point.  I foresee the next year as being formative in how I prepare for athletics.  I need to change my diet and work on establishing a consistent base of aerobic and strength conditioning.  I think it would be interesting to develop a career in athletics training on the side of being a high school teacher.  In the very least, being physically fit will give me the confidence to hike longer, climb harder, run faster, and look cooler.  I hope to establish credibility at my local gym as a strongman soon as my strength at least has not deteriorated too much based upon the fact that I was able to squat 275 lbs. my fist time back squatting, deadlift 275 lbs. my first time back deadlifting, and bench 185 lbs. my first time back bench pressing.  I think it makes sense to do 1 hour of cardio and 1 hour of strength training each day as well as perform rigorous control of my diet.  The overall goal is to become a leader in athletic pursuits so I can be an effective high school coach.  I believe athletics is a path to good life for boys in particular and may be another way to engage urban youth.  I see Hip Hop education and athletics working together to engage urban youth.

The path forward in this endeavor is a little like climbing a mountain.  I need to perform both active and passive methods to accomplish these two tasks.  If I even get one of them to work, I will be in a very good place.  I aim for conducting both at a high level.

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About kayaerbil

I am a Berkeley educated chemistry Ph.D. who is moving into the area of working on developing appropriate technology for communities that are subjected to socio-economic oppression. The goal is to use simple and effective designs to empower people to live better lives. Currently, I am working with Native Americans on Pine Ridge, the Lakota reservation in South Dakota. I am working with a Native owned and run solar energy company. We are currently working on building a compressed earth block (CEB) house that showcases many of the technologies that the company has developed. The CEB house is made of locally derived resources, earth from the reservation. The blocks are naturally thermally insulating, keeping the house cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Eventually, a solar air heater and photovoltaic panels will be installed into the house to power the home and keep it warm, while preserving the house off the grid. A side project while in Pine Ridge is a solar computer. I hope to learn about blockchain encryption software for building microgrids. In addition, it is an immediate interest of mine to involve local youth in technology education.
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