Singing Disney’s Domain Specific Vocabulary

Dear Science and Mathematics Teachers:

You should know that there are legions of little girls singing about fractals. Well, to be fair, so are their parents, brothers, cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents. The song  “Let It Go” from the film Frozen has achieved iconic status, even though everyone singing may or may not know what all the words mean…especially the word fractal:

“A fractal is a never -ending pattern that repeats itself at different scales. This property is called self-similarity.” (Fractal Foundation)

The song “Let It Go” occurs during the film when Queen Elsa’s lets her magical powers loose. There is a crescendo as Elsa  creates a palace of fractals singing:

 My power flurries through the air into the ground
My soul is spiraling in frozen fractals all around
And one thought crystallizes like an icy blast
I’m never going back,
The past is in the past!

This song is not the first song in which Disney has incorporated domain specific language in the lyrics. For example, the film Dumbo offered scientific terminology in the song “Pink Elephants on Parade” with the verse:

I could stand the sight of worms
And look at microscopic germs
But technicolor pachyderms
Is really much for me

While seagoing terms were offered in The Little Mermaid’s opening song, “Fathoms Below”:

I’ll tell you a tale of the bottomless blue
And it’s hey to the starboard, heave ho
Look out, lad, a mermaid be waiting for you
In mysterious fathoms below

Vocabulary is the key to developing background knowledge, the kind of knowledge that is important later when all those little girls and little boys will be reading to understand complex principles in math and science texts.

So science and math teachers, take advantage of this vocabulary. Your  students are singing about fractals.



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