Food & Drink Jun 25, 2012

Björk Brings Biophilia Children’s Education Workshops Back to NYC

Drop-in workshops at the New York Public Library and Children's Museum of Manhattan to begin July 6.

Icelandic recording artist Björk is teaming up with the New York Public Library (NYPL) and the Children’s Museum of Manhattan (CMOM) to offer kids an interactive educational program based on the musician’s latest album,Biophilia, and its accompanying iPad apps.

Biophilia uses the track listing from Björk’s 2011 album of the same name to create 10 “in-app experiences” that explore the relationships between technology, art, music, and natural phenomena, using an innovative approach to teaching kids about science and music. The apps, designed by Björk, along with interactive artist Scott Snibbe and a team of developers, includes an interactive game, musical animation for each song, an animated score, lyrics, and text that help students learn about different musical features while exploring the ideas behind each song.

“It’s not a bookish thing,” Bjork said at the unveiling the educational program on Tuesday. “You cannot learn to make music … from a book. There are things you can only learn from books, but it’s also important to introduce the physical aspects. So for me, it was very important to make, somehow, music education that was physical.”

Starting in July, two NYPL branches—one in the Bronx and the other in Harlem—will offer five weeks of Biophilia programs aimed at middle schoolers. The classes will expand to additional branches in September and October. The program is free, and there is no cap on the number of participants, says NYPL’s Adenike Olanrewaju. From July 6 to December 30, the Children’s Museum of Manhattan will host daily drop-in programs for children ages 3 to 11, including summer camps and school groups.

“The world of education is changing, and I am so proud that the library is involved in providing programming and supporting the tools that will allow young people—our future—to continue to learn in new, interactive, and exciting ways,” says NYPL President Anthony W. Marx. “The Biophilia app makes knowledge more accessible to children, and inspires them to learn more—both key missions of the library, as well.”

The inspiration behind Björk’s educational apps came from the heavy academic emphasis she experienced during her formative years in music, and says education should be more hands-on. The Biophilia education program is scalable, making it easy for any teacher or librarian to adapt for classroom use.

“I’m so honored that the New York Public Library and Children’s Museum of Manhattan are up for this,” says Björk, a longtime advocate for education through the arts. “I’ve spent four years on Biophilia, and these are dream homes for the project.”

This isn’t the first time Björk’s mixed her music with New York City kids. Last February she joined forces with the New York Hall of Science in Queens to present a three-week educational program for middle schoolers also focused around her Biophilia app album. She developed similar programs in Manchester, England, and her native Iceland.

Fast Company magazine included Björk in their list of the “100 Most Creative People in Business,” and earlier this week, Snibbe presented the singer with the Webby Award’s “Artist of the Year” honor for her work integrating science, art, and technology. The New York Times described Biophilia “among the most creative, innovative and important new projects in popular culture,” and iTunes named the app one of the top five music apps of 2011.

“Biophilia is at the forefront in the development of arts-based education and the development of a child’s creative thinking,” says Andrew Ackerman, CMOM’s executive director. “Its portability allows for learning to take place anywhere—at school, the library, and in a family setting at home. By leveraging the extensive network of the Center for Arts Education in combination with the NYPL, we will be able to reach thousands of children and teachers over the next six months.”

Click the following links for more information from School Library Journal about NYPL’s Biophilia programming and CMOM’s Biophilia programing.