A.J. LuxtonHi. I'm A.J. Luxton. Since 2009, I've been working on a Bachelor's degree in general science at Portland State University. I've also been a teacher and tutor at various points in my life, and over the course of the last year, led workshops in general chemistry and physics.

While I was leading these workshops, I was also studying for the MCAT. And I noticed that teaching and learning science worked the same way: there was this moment of understanding we were all looking for, this mental "click" where a concept that could have been gibberish a moment ago suddenly seemed perfectly natural, like it had been with us since childhood.

For me, that moment often hinged on finding the perfect metaphor. Relating a tough science concept to the concrete experience of daily life whether by finding a real life example, or a kooky analogy — made it make sense.

Both as a teacher and as a student, I loved these "AHA!" moments. They were the best feeling in the world, an intellectual thrill. I wanted to capture them somehow, share them with the world. I also wanted to preserve and share some of the unique learning strategies I'd evolved with my peers over the course of these endeavors.

So, what exactly IS the Science Monologues Project?

It consists of spoken-word tracks backed by synthesizer music. They're not lectures, and they're not jingles. They're something a little bit different.

Each track is two to four minutes - the kind of thing you can listen to on your iPod while walking to class, or add to a mix tape, or play in your car or on the bus. Each track centers around one concept and one metaphor or example that draws connections around the concept.

Science Monologues are only released into the wild once my beta testers have told me they're entertaining in their own right as well as a useful study aid. They're here for students and also for science-educated adults who enjoy the sense of delight that comes with thinking from a new perspective.

And yes, I count Laurie Anderson among my influences.

Can I use your material to teach my class?

Absolutely! All audio tracks associated with the Science Monologues Project are distributed under a Creative Commons Noncommercial license. You can do whatever you like with these tracks, as long as you don't make money off it.

Creative Commons License

The Science Monologues Project by A.J. Luxton & Friends is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://sciencemonologues.ajluxton.com/about.html.

If you're not sure if your use counts as commercial, to my mind it probably doesn't (for example, if you were raising funds for a science museum and added these tracks to the playlist, that would be OK. You can use the material as an accessory to a project that might make you money somewhere down the line; just don't try to sell our work or pass it off as your own!)

Attribution is requested, but doesn't have to be a big wonky deal. Mention my name, the project's name, or the URL somewhere in conjunction with your sharing of these tracks. It's not like people can't use Google. The ideal is that students and other people who enjoy these monologues should be able to find the rest of them. Sending feedback is always great, though not required (success stories are fun... and it's useful to know if the darn thing goes over like a lead balloon).