A YouTube Science Education

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The way we acquire information has changed drastically since I was young student. At the risk of dating myself, I remember needing to go to the library to take out books to write school reports. Sometimes I even needed to stay at the library for hours in the reference section to use the encyclopedia. Some time in high school, my family finally got a personal computer and I was able to search the web from the comfort of my own home. Even then most of my information came from an online encyclopedia.

Fast forward (not too) many years and I am now in a time where I can access information in many different forms ranging from encyclopedias to online courses to educational blogs. Simply typing the question, “Why is the sky blue?” into my search engine yields a staggering 295 million results.  As a natural philomath (lover of learning), being able to learn from such a wide variety of sources makes me feel like a kid in a candy store.

In recent years, YouTube has become an invaluable educational resource for all variety of skills and topics. This is especially true for science and technology, with YouTube now hosting over 900,000 channels devoted to these topics. In my household, which boasts one biologist and one engineer both of whom just never seem to get tired of learning, watching these YouTube science channels has become a bit of a Saturday morning tradition. Here are the top science YouTube channels on my list to watch.    

1. SciShow: "Why Are We Ticklish?" "Do Fish Drink Water?" "Can You Really Be Scared To Death?" "When You Burn Fat, Where Does It Go?" These are just some of the episodes you’ll find on this YouTube channel. Whether you are looking for a quick dose of science or more in-depth discussion, SciShow has something for everyone, covering the latest scientific news, great minds in science, visiting places with weird fascinating science, and answering some of the most popular science questions searched on Google.

2. MinutePhysics: Following Einstein’s ideology of, "If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough,” MinutePhysics explores complex physics phenomena in short and simple bite-sized videos. My favorite part about this channel is that each video features animations and white board drawings to go along with the narrations helping to illustrate the concepts being discussed. Check out “Astronomically Correct Twinkle Twinkle,” “Why is the Solar System Flat?” and “Why is it Dark at Night?”

3. Veritasium: Veritasium covers a wide range of scientific concepts using demos, experimentation, and interviews with scientific experts. A great element of this channel is the “Test Yourself” segment that allows you test your knowledge and reasoning. For these segments, a scientific experiment is proposed and you are asked to predict the outcome. A week after this first video, the results of the experiment are revealed and an explanation for the phenomenon is provided. Veritasium also seeks to address common misconceptions that arise in science.

4. Periodic Videos: This YouTube channel is a one stop shop for chemistry knowledge. Periodic Videos is the brain child of BBC video journalist Brady Haran, who was inspired to make a periodic table of videos covering each of the 118 elements. Videos feature chemists explaining the properties of the featured element and blend in the type of fun chemistry experiments we all wish we would be allowed to do in chemistry labs. Although all the elements have been covered, the channel is still going strong adding new sections covering fascinating molecules, updating information on various elements, and observing various chemical phenomena in slow motion.

5. Numberphile: Numberphile is yet another Brady Haran project but as the title suggests this channel is focused on numbers. I have to admit I do not have the strongest background in mathematics so when my husband, a trained mathematician, put this channel on I was scared. However, the videos are very entertaining and really help to tie mathematical concepts to everyday life. There are videos devoted to “The Scientific Way to Cut a Cake,” “How to Win at Dots and Boxes,” “Calculating Pi with Real Pie,” and more.

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