Saturday, June 18, 2011

100 Best YouTube Videos for Science Teachers

By now, YouTube’s value in the classroom should be rather self-evident. No matter the subject or grade level, the website offers up excellent videos to supplement lessons and provide windows into different facts and concepts. Science teachers especially have plenty to love and appreciate with this valuable resource. Everything from microbiology to astrophysics makes an appearance through a channel operated by a museum, university, educator, professional or interested individual. Because so many of the sciences require visual aids to really open up and explain their very cores and valuable applications.
It should be noted that this list does not contain any Mythbusters videos, as I lack any semblance of self-control and would just end up listing 100 of them instead of providing a diverse selection to meet the needs of different classrooms. Rest assured, though, that there is probably a clip from Mythbusters available to fit almost any lecture.
1.) They Might Be Giants: “Meet the Elements” (BB Video)
Boing Boing presents the single greatest animated science video on YouTube, accompanied by a catchy song about the periodic table – courtesy of the venerable They Might Be Giants.

 2.) Diet Coke + Mentos
If allowing the little nose-mining cherubs to conduct their own Diet Coke and Mentos experiments means injuries and lawsuits, then showing them the video that launched the craze will probably work as a reasonable substitute.
3.) The Science of Caddyshack
Believe it or not, the movie Caddyshack actually involves real-life science – as the Discovery Channel’s James Williams is more than eager to share.
4.) The Inner Life of the Cell
Biology teachers hoping for a wonderful visualization of cellular functioning and structure absolutely need to show off this gorgeous animated collaboration between Harvard and XVIVO. The fact that it does not involve any audio beyond some wonderfully soothing music means it can serve as a nice backdrop to a lecture.

5.) They Might Be Giants – How Many Planets?
Anyone who doesn’t wax nostalgic over the loss of dearly beloved Pluto (1930-2006. Never Forget.) probably kicks orphaned, widowed puppies in his or her spare time.
6.) Turtle Takes on a Shark
All the cheesy fun of a SyFy original movie, with the added bonus of being both real and educational!
7.) 2010 Exploring Space Lecture: Where the Hot Stuff Is: Volcanoes of the Earth and Solar System
At over 1 hour in length, this lecture on volcanism beyond the familiar structures on Earth is best presented in bits and pieces that dovetail nicely with lessons.
8.) Pistol Shrimp
Spice up a biology or ecology class with a crazy awesome video of a shrimp capable of shooting jets of water almost as hot as the surface of the sun!
9.) Killing Anthrax Faster and Greener
Killing off hearty anthrax usually eats up insane amounts of time and involves corrosive components, but a new method may prove more efficient and ecologically-friendly.

10.) “New World” Asteroid Photographed
21 Lutetia, so far, is the largest asteroid any human has yet to see up close. This amazing footage, courtesy of National Geographic and the European Space Agency, makes for a great addition to any astronomy class.
11.) They Might Be Giants – Roy G Biv
Off their “Here Comes Science” album – which, incidentally, will crop up on this list multiple times – comes a nifty little ditty about the color spectrum. Of course, it comes with a fun animated music video of its own.

12.) Edible Insects
Cultures all over the world rely on insects to provide protein and other nutrients, and the staff at the National Museum of Natural History share their thoughts on trying a food considered “gross” in Western society.
13.) Giant Double Rainbow
Discovery News sheds some light on a YouTube video involving an anomalous double rainbow, offering a cool, quick lesson in refraction and spectrum physics.
14.) Mirage 1
Robert Krampf is pretty much the Bob Ross of science, and this warm, accessible video explains the basics of how mirages work.
15.) They Might Be Giants - Speed and Velocity w/ Marty Beller
The Flash has nothing on these 2 enjoyable superheroes, who introduce lessons in the difference between speed and velocity.
16.) Earth-Building Wounds
Scientists are studying the unique geological properties of Iceland in order to better understand how tectonic plates form and shift to permanently change the shape of the planet.
17.) The Wright Brothers Discover Aspect Ratio
John D. Anderson at the National Air and Space Museum provides an interesting talk on the Wright Brothers and their indispensible contributions to the history of human flight.
18.) Through the Wormhole: DNA
Morgan Freeman(!!!!!!) narrates a brief clip on the structure and importance of DNA. Short, but soothing. Also educational. Also Morgan Freeman.

19.) Extraordinary Gorilla Encounter Explained
Learn about the reality behind Damian Aspinall’s re-introduction to a gorilla he raised 5 years prior – an interesting glimpse into primate behavior!
20.) Microwaving the World
More sensitive classes may not like thinking about the negative impact an aging sun would have on the planet, but this video still has plenty to offer science teachers whose lessons involve the lifecycles of stars.
21.) Electric Car – They Might Be Giants w/ Robin Goldwasser
Students learning about ecology and alternative energy may appreciate another wonderful installment in They Might Be Giants’s “Here Comes Science” song and video series!
22.) What Do Visitors Really Know About Evolution?
This 1-hour lecture from the National Museum of Natural History shares some of the institution’s findings
 regarding how to best educate visitors on the Theory of Evolution.

23.) Robot Controlled by Human Brainwaves
24.) A Color You Can’t See
The infinitely huggable Robert Krampf explains that some colors exist outside of human perception, but cell phone cameras can help individuals see them in action.
25.) They Might Be Giants – Why Does the Sun Shine? (The Sun is a Mass of Incandescent Gas)
One of They Might Be Giants’s most famous songs just happens to have an application in the science classroom, particularly those involving astronomy.
26.) The Medical Heroin Experiment
Educators who enjoy facilitating civil debates in their science classrooms may like this National Geographic video on the medical heroin controversy as a conversation starter.
27.) NASA Android Testing
In the 1960’s, NASA experimented with android robotics for possible space suit applications. They donated their footage (and the metal man himself) to the National Air and Space Museum to educate the populace on their findings.
28.) What is Synthetic Genomics?
Receive a crash course in how cells work and the field of synthetic genomics that has sprung up around them.
29.) Why is the Sky Blue?
Such a simple question actually has an interesting, complex answer involving spectrum physics!
30.) Big Cats Wild for Calvin Klein Cologne?
This humorous video showcases some very unusually findings by the Wildlife Conservation Society regarding how cheetahs react to Calvin Klein’s “Obsession for Men.”
31.) King Weed – They Might Be Giants
Throw a couple of suited men into a biology class for a neat musical discussion of evolution and survival of the fittest.
32.) Smithsonian geologist puts Eyjafjallajökull eruption in perspective
Energetic geologist Liz Cottrell analyzes a particularly infamous volcanic eruption and illustrates what it means for the planet’s structure.
33.) Ticks: Bloodsucking Ninjas of Summer
This useful video talks ticks, both their biology, the diseases they carry and how to prevent a negative encounter with these little Nasty Nellies.
34.) Making Butter
One of the first science experiments most children undertake in their educations involves turning cream into butter, deliciously illustrating different states of matter.
35.) They Might Be Giants – Computer Assisted Design
Listen to a neat song and watch a great animation on what technology can do to help mankind channel its creativity and solve serious problems.
36.) Amazing Northern Lights
Marvel at one of the most breathtaking meteorological occurrences, where lights in every color of the rainbow dance across the sky in smooth, elegant waves.
37.) Apollo 11 TV Broadcast – Neil Armstrong First Step on Moon
Watch one of the most triumphant moments in human history as Neil Armstrong becomes the first man to set foot on Earth’s moon.
38.) Sci Fi Science: Traveling at Warp Speed
Believe it or not, 1 mathematical equation may unlock the reality behind the currently fictitious concept of traveling through space and time without violating any known laws of physics.
39.) Cuttlefish: Chameleons of the Sea
The intelligent, gentle cuttlefish possesses the amazing ability to change both its color and its texture to fit the environment in which it feeds.
40.) Electromagnetic Sun Storms
Although the likelihood of such a deadly cavalcade of electromagnetism is minimal, the sun still holds the potential to wipe out human infrastructure with a particularly heavy burst.
41.) Photosynthesis – They Might Be Giants
Introduce classes to the fundamentals of photosynthesis with another delightful video by They Might Be Giants.
42.) Recreating Volcanoes in a Lab
Follow Liz Cottrell as she shows off the equipment she uses to study volcanoes without ever even leaving her lab.
43.) Sea Otter Poop May Help Save Species
Perfect for ecology and biology classes, this hopeful little video full of spunky l’il otters, information on nurturing their population growth and – of course – plenty of doo-doo.
44.) The Science of Balance
Robert Krampf talks about the relationship between gravity and balance, with plenty of simple, effective demonstrations to prove his point.
45.) I Am a Paleontologist – They Might Be Giants w/Danny Weinkauf
This video wraps up 3 things kids love into one catchy package – dinosaurs, music and not having to stare slack-jawed and disengaged during a lecture.

46.) Dropping 2 Million Pounds
Human engineering and construction has evolved to the point it can pick up a bridge weighing 2 million pounds and (very carefully!) haul it to a new location.
47.) Primordial Soup With Julia Child
The amazing, incomparable Julia Child lends her cooking skills to science education, mixing up a hearty brew of amino acids and discussing how integral they are to all life on Earth.
48.) Popular Science’s Future Of: Pleasure
One fun, enjoyable little robot has been programmed to improvise music and work with humans to improve their talents together and create some amazing songs.
49.) Smart Tech Measures Personal Water Consumption
Hydrosense, developed by the University of Washington, allows individuals to track how much water they use in a day – a useful little device for the ecologically-minded! Perhaps the ecologically-minded classroom?
50.) Twin Super Powers
The Hogans, a pair of twins joined at the cranium, possess an amazing cognitive and sensory ability to see and understand stimuli simultaneously – even if only one of the kids actually sees it.
51.) Solid Liquid Gas – They Might Be Giants
Another rocking time with They Might Be Giants, teaching kids the 3 basic forms of matter and how materials transition between them.
52.) Skeletal Growth- Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.
Watch a brief animated video on how the magnificent human skeleton gradually grows from only 1 day old into adulthood.
53.) Star Spits Out Baby Planet
Punch up on astronomy lessons by showing a Discovery News video explaining – in layman’s terms – how debris from a star gradually creates planets.
54.) Static Charges
Experiment with static electricity alongside the lovely Robert Krampf and learn a few lessons about induction along the way.
55.) Brink – Space Junk
Internet celebrities Rhett & Link sing a catchy song about the manmade clutter that floats about the Earth’s orbit.
56.) Monsters of the Deep
The hugest bivalves in existence, the giant clams sit gently on the seafloor and continue to fascinate scientists for reasons other than their generous size.
57.) Let’s Go For A Spin: Lunar Rovers of Apollo and Constellation
Listen to a fascinating lecture on the latest developments in rover technology and the machinery’s importance to advancing humanity’s knowledge of outer space.
58.) The Nerdabout vlog – How to Hack a Wii Remote
Micro-controllers such as the Wii remote provide some very cool, very basic computing lessons.
59.) Is It Possible? Real Life Batman
Daniel Kish has been blind since the age of 13 months, but gets around almost as well as those with sight using flash sonar and echolocation. Really more of a Daredevil than a Batman, he “sees” with his ears by sending out clicks and measuring their echoes in order to form a “picture” of his surroundings.
60.) Dream Car Archaeology
Engineering classrooms – most especially those populated by gearheads – can find both entertainment and education in this cool National Geographic video of a restoration team working on a ’54 Oldsmobile. Considering the vehicle’s age, they have to piece together different clues and use logic and experimentation to find out what will and will not work.
61.) What Is a Shooting Star? – They Might Be Giants
Astronomy students sometimes struggle with the difference between meteors and meteorites, but enough rounds of They Might Be Giants’s catchy vocabulary lesson can set them straight.
62.) Coral Reefs – A Delicate Balance of Life at the National Museum of Natural History
This video offering by NMNH provides educators with some dramatic images of its coral reef exhibit, and the lack of narration makes it a nice backdrop for lectures on ocean life.
63.) Hawaii Volcano Shows Technicolor Lava
One of the most fascinating geological phenomena on the planet comes to life through infrared imaging, and Discovery News uses the available footage to discuss how scientists use the information to predict eruptions.
64.) Feathers
Explore the ins and outs of fabulous feathers, which contain a multitude of marvels beneath their simple surfaces.
65.) Mammals Vs. Dinos- Mammalian Sensory Development
Learn about the ways in which nocturnal behavior contributed to the perpetuation and evolution of different mammalian species.
66.) Nuclear Explosion in the Sky
Contrary to what many believe, explosives do not have to be dropped on a city in order to disrupt life and dismantle infrastructures.
67.) How Things Fly Exhibition – Blended Wing Body
Take a quick peek into NASA’s experiments in blended wing aircraft and learn a little bit about how they may end up increasing the efficiency of aeronautic vehicles.
68.) Visions of the Future: Intelligent Driving
“Computer power doubles every 18 months,” states this video by the Science Channel. Already, scientists are in a place conducive to designing and testing cars capable of driving themselves!
69.) SDO Captures Eruptions on the Sun
Witness dramatic solar activity recorded by SDO and learn about how the surface of the sun constantly changes.
70.) Slicing Up the Bay Bridge
Physics and engineering students curious about the real-world applications of their lessons may appreciate learning about the challenging repairs that construction workers faced when making the Bay Bridge safer.
71.) They Might Be Giants – Cells
As if the band hasn’t already provided a bevy of great songs and videos for science teachers, They Might Be Giants chimes in with a useful lesson on cellular fundamentals.
72.) Lessons from the Panama Oil Spill
Learn what Dr. Jeremy Jackson at the Scripps Center for Oceanography has to say about how humanity should react to horrifying oil spills based on past experiences.
73.) Why is it So Hard to Lose Weight?
This incredibly valuable video discusses biology, evolution, nutrition and anatomy while also teaching the healthiest method of losing weight.
74.) Solar Power
Solar power plants who use mirrors to capture energy provide some great lessons in how light reflection and refraction work.
75.) It’s All Geek to Me – Vinyl to Digital
David Pogue for the New York Times demonstrates how recording studios transfer music from old vinyl albums to digital media so as not to lose any classics.
76.) Extraordinary Adaptation
Dystonia causes sufferers to perpetually flex up to 500 muscles at once, and Jason Dunn opens up about what life is like with “one of the most annoying things you can imagine.”
77.) Apollo and the So-Called Moon-Landing Hoax
National Air and Space Museum’s curator of Space History Dr. Roger Launius dispels some of the conspiracy theories behind the first moon landing.
78.) Space School- Earth
Thus far, Earth has proven one of the most unique planets in the universe…and definitely the Solar System! Learn about the special properties it possesses that allows life to teem on its surface.
79.) Chimps Face Death Like Humans Do
Several studies have conducted research on how chimpanzees deal with the death of their friends and relatives, and the revelations have come as something of a shock.
80.) Why Geography Matters by Google Earth
Geography encompasses a wide array of subjects, and kids participating in the 2010 National Geographic Bee explain why they believe it’s so important to study.
81.) My Brother the Ape – They Might Be Giants
Teachers allowed to discuss evolution in their classrooms can play this They Might Be Giants video to illustrate the interconnectivity of different animals – including humans!
82.) Science with an Artistic Flair at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History
Enjoy some of the impressive portfolios from NMNH’s scientific illustrators, who merge the technical with the creative on a daily basis. To incredible results, no less!
83.) Stressed Veggies Better For You
Learn about the biological phenomena that cause cut vegetables to yield greater nutrients – useful lessons for a couple of different scientific disciplines!

84.) Pictures in Silver
The dying art of film photography seamlessly blends art with chemistry, and Robert Krampf shares a characteristically chill experiment explaining how the process works.
85.) The Physics of Baseball – Pitching
America’s allegedly favorite pastime possesses myriad opportunities for teachers to illustrate some of the basic principles of physics.
86.) Alpaca Fleece to Help in Gulf Oil Spill?
Ecology, geography, geology and biology converge in this interesting glimpse at how 4 alpacas at the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo are contributing to cleaning up the 2010 BP oil spill – a handy lesson that transcends time and date.
87.) Big Blue Sky: The History of Hang Gliding
Physics and engineering classes may enjoy hearing some parts of Bill Liscomb’s neat lecture on the history of hang gliding.
88.) Beyond Tomorrow- Mercedes Brakes
The sleek, sexy Mercedes possesses some advanced technology capable of helping drivers use their breaks more efficiently and safely.
89.) LHC Collides at Record Speeds
CERN’s undeniably ambitious Large Hadron Collider may change the face of particle physics and its associated fields forever, and Discovery Channel provides a quick overview of what scientists hope it will accomplish.
90.) Frog Jumps Caught in Slow Motion
Watch some amazing high-speed footage of frogs jumping in order to learn more about how their complex little bodies work.
91.) They Might Be Giants – The Bloodmobile
They Might Be Giants use their prodigious musical talents to sing about how the circulatory system interacts with other organs to keep a body running smoothly.
92.) Oxygen
Styled like a PSA from the ‘50s, this fun animated video by the National Museum of Natural History teaches viewers how fundamental this element is to the survival of life on Earth.
93.) Synthetic Life Becomes Reality
The J. Craig Venter Institute has developed a revolutionary procedure that will change the face of biology and biotechnology forever – a fully-functioning cell constructed entirely of synthetic DNA.
94.) The Waterfall Effect
Waterfalls provide an extremely interesting opportunity to learn about the relationship between perception and cognition.
95.) Heavy Metal Task Force: Ice Hammer
Ice hammers are amazing machines that allow humans to keep water sources from freezing over too much. These feats of engineering involve incredibly dangerous maneuvers and require the most precise science available.
96.) Understanding Earthquakes
Subterranean events comprise the vast majority of Earth’s activity, and this video explains the science behind one of the most common (and devastating) effects they have on the crust.
97.) Space Shuttle STS-129 Astronauts Visit the Museum
The National Air and Space Museum presents a 1-hour lecture and Q&A session with the 4 astronauts who traveled to the International Space Station on the STS-129.
98.) Physics of Superheroes 1 – Death of Gwen Stacy
University of Minnesota physics professor Dr. James Kakalios presents a very cool series of lectures – all of which are available on YouTube – on the real-life science behind many comic book stories and characters.
99.) Is It Possible?- Personal Jet Pack
Although still in the testing phase, engineering has begun fulfilling some of the promises Hanna-Barbera made with The Jetsons.
100.) They Might Be Giants – Put It to the Test
Marvel as little 8-bit men sing viewers through the different steps of the scientific method.
Videos make for an amazing way to add interest to a lecture and encourage students to better understand the concepts and applications of the sciences. Consider punching up a lesson by infusing multimedia into the classroom, opening up the minds of children and adults alike and allowing them to comprehend the complex ways that the universe works.

Bachelor Of Science » 100 Best YouTube Videos for Science Teachers


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  2. I LOVE TMBG videos. Also check out Eureka videos on youtube. They were Canada's answer to School House Rock, and are about 5 minutes long. There are no catchy songs, but they cover physics topics with cartoons. My 8th graders loved them!

  3. The camel "Adaptations" song is a personal favorite of my students.

  4. Thanks for the great list.
    Mr Edmunds has a number of videos on YouTube of remakes of songs to help students remember science concepts. Very singable.

  5. Great list! Something for everyone.

  6. Thank you so much for this list!