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And the 2017 BioTechniques Lab Grammy Goes to...

02/27/2017
Kristie Nybo, PhD

The votes have been cast and counted. The envelope (yes, the correct one) is in hand. Now find out who earned biology’s most coveted music award.


The BioTechniques Lab Grammy competition brings you the highs and lows of life in the lab through song and dance (and a heavy dose of comedy). From joining a lab to leaving one, handling malfunctioning equipment or quirky personalities in the lab, or puzzling over how an experiment returned such bizarre results, the 13 videos that competed for the 2017 Lab Grammy all provide humorous behind-the-scenes looks at the life of a scientist. Each video is entertaining and illuminating, but only one can earn our top honor.

The winner of the 2017 BioTechniques Lab Grammy award is…

Cell Organelles Song, by Jay Richards and Swiggity Swag Science!

“I am very surprised and honored to win,” said Richards. “I watched all of the nominated videos and they were all great. I'm really thankful for everyone who voted for us and encouraged our work.”

As a science teacher at Magsig Middle School in Centerville, OH, Richards wanted to reach all of his students, who varied considerably in their learning preferences. Since cell organelle structure and function is part of his district's curriculum, he decided to review the topic using video.

Cell Organelles Song” isn’t his first video. Two years ago, Richards had been toying with the idea for a parody of "Every little thing she does is magic" by the Police to teach about cells. “One day I finally sat down and wrote it. I was just goofing around with my children and recorded a video,” he recalled. “The next day I showed it to my students. They loved it. They told me to put it on YouTube, but I resisted.”

The students finally talked him into posting the video, which began a wave of creativity that eventually evolved into Richards’ Swiggity Swag Science channel. The channel now features more than 20 science education songs and 100 other videos showing lectures and demonstrations.

The videos inspired his students as well, who formed an after school video club where they learn about video production. “I am very proud of these students because they are willing to take a risk, to learn, and to help other students learn,” he said. The club has also banded together for charity, putting on parties and distributing gifts to students with learning disabilities. With support from the YouTube channel, the group hopes to expand their opportunities for charitable activities and develop their club so that it can be modeled in other schools.

“I have been following your Lab Grammy competition for the past two years and think that is a great idea to promote the talents and creativity of scientists,” Richards said. Considering the excitement his students might feel in seeing one of their videos nominated, Richards decided to make a nomination. “I had students vote for their favorite and they overwhelming chose the video we made about cell organelles. We are very proud of that one!”

Congratulations to Jay Richards and the students of Magsig Middle School!

Take a look at the tough competitors Swiggity Swag Science contended with for this win.