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Anthropomorphism in Science Songs

Presented by
Richard Heineman, Kutztown University

Anthropomorphism is impactful, and metaphors that draw on its power are widely used in science. For example, when DNA is described as the instruction manual for a cell, this implies a reader. However, anthropomorphism may reinforce misunderstandings that students are already inclined towards; for example, when we discuss a molecule or cell like a person with goals, we misrepresent what is actually a hardwired set of rules as a series of choices. As an educator who writes songs that rely heavily on anthropomorphism, I will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the approach, how to maximize its benefits, and how to minimize its costs.