Missouri S&T Student And Future NASA Engineer Raps The Quadratic Formula

Dec 7, 2017

Dajae Williams, a senior Missouri S&T student and future NASA engineer, raps about the quadratic formula. She says she wants to blend hip hop and mathematics more to teach others.
Credit Missouri S&T

Missouri S&T senior Dajae Williams is helping other students learn a complex math equation through rap.

In a YouTube video uploaded on the Rolla campus’ official channel, Williams mixes her passion for music and numbers into a track explaining the quadratic formula:

“This [video] is a supplementary tool for the teacher,” Williams told host Gina Kaufmann on KCUR’s Central Standard.

“This is not saying teachers don’t teach well enough. But here’s another way to teach a demographic that hasn’t been tapped into.”

After graduating at Missouri S&T, Williams will begin a new job at NASA, manufacturing unique parts for spacecraft such as the upcoming Mars rover scheduled for the year 2020.

Williams’ decision to work for the national space agency was inspired by "Hidden Figures," a film based on the true story of black female mathematicians who worked for the organization back in the 1960’s.

“Before I saw the movie, NASA was not on my radar. It didn’t dawn on me that ‘Hey, you can go work at NASA.’ It was just this untouchable thing.” she said.

While the setting of the film takes place nearly 50 years ago, Williams believes the movie’s commentary on prejudice is still relevant today.

“But NASA has created a community where I do feel involved. There are stragglers who do make me feel inferior … but for the most part there are people who are really supporting me and want me to do well,” she said.

Even though Williams will be working in a high-pressure environment, she plans to use her available free time to continue creating raps to teach math.

“I want this to be a legit movement: teaching through music,” said Williams.

Coy Dugger is an assistant producer for KCUR’s Central Standard. Reach out to him at coy@kcur.org.