|Erlenmeyer flasks behind a wok in a kitchen cabinet|
I said in my last post that my kid's "understanding of concepts and facts in multiple areas of science is excellent." Already knowing nearly every fact and concept presented in our district's gifted science classes made those classes boring. The lack of intellectual stimulation meant there was no "hook" to make graphing or writing engaging.
When people talk about 2e kids having "spiky" profiles or asynchronous skills, this is the disconnect they're talking about. If plotting points on a graph results in a surprising curve that furthers your understanding of a concept, then it feels worthwhile. Someone who already knows that curve and the concepts behind it will find plotting those points tedious. Practice is more effective when it feels worthwhile.
Our family is knowledgeable and science-minded so the kid learned some stuff from casual conversation. The rest, the bulk of it, came from YouTube. YouTube has SO MUCH good science content. It's a different and better world from what I had in the 1970s with "Cosmos" and the occasional documentary.
Here is the non-exhaustive list of 43 YouTube channels my kid has been learning science from for years. I only have a loose grasp of what's generally considered appropriate for what age but I tried to make notes of which videos I wouldn't show someone else's child without talking to their parent about it first.
- 3Blue1Brownis mostly math but gets into a little bit of science. This is pretty advanced stuff, maybe high school level?
- Answer in Progress My intro to this channel was "I taught an AI to stan BTS" which gets into computer coding and machine learning and how humans are biased and how not understanding our own biases leads to a skewed result. I'm not sure how to describe this channel.
- AntsCanada Dramatic narratives about well-kept ant colonies with a lot of related information.
- AsapSCIENCE Science! And occasionally music.
- Because Science is Kyle Hill's old channel. It looks directly at some science and uses science to analyze movies and TV shows.
- Be Smart (formerly "It's Okay to be Smart") My brain keeps trying to tell me Joe Hanson is related to John and Hank Green, but that is not the case. These videos are like mini documentaries on different science topics.
- Bill Wurtz swears in some of his videos, many of which are strange and random but he did "history of the entire world, i guess" which includes the line "The sun is a deadly lazer" and everyone should watch at least once.
- Brian Douglas - Control System Lectures This is actually aimed at first year college students.
- Captain Disillusion teaches critical thinking while while explaining how special effects were done.
- CGP Grey covers many topics including science and voting. A few of these videos are kind of heavy for kids.
- Crash Course This is the explicitly educational channel by the Green brothers and it thoroughly covers some science topics.
- Extra Credits started out looking at computer game design then expanded. It covers some science and computer engineering incidentally but doesn't focus on science. It's still fantastic.
- Facts In Motion Arcane science topics. Some of the videos are creepy, "How Dangerous Can Ocean Waves Get? Wave Comparison" kept me from sleeping.
- The Food Theorists If you have a kid who is allowed to watch YouTube you have probably already watched something by MatPat. There's debunking, critical thinking, and entertaining summaries of deep data analyses.
- The Good Stuff Looks into science and science news.
- Half-Asleep Chris is more about engineering and crafting than science but the cats are very cute.
- How To Cook That teaches critical thinking while debunking incorrect or dangerous videos.
- How To Make Everything This channel first got my attention with "How to Make a $1500 Sandwich in Only 6 Months" which went into great and satisfying detail. During Covid he started with stone age technology and figured out how to rebuild civilization from there.
- The Infographics Show Highly entertaining videos. Some involve death, disaster, and war, so not all of these videos are appropriate for every child. Only some videos are science focused.
- Jacob Geller covers some science and philosophy but handles mature topics. "Head Transplants and the Non-Existence of the Soul" starts with appropriate and serious content warnings.
- The King of Random Were this a book title it would clearly be alphabetized under "K" but since the channel logo is "TKOR" perhaps I should have put it under "T". This follows the Mythbuster's basic method of 1) Find something interesting, 2) Build something to find out more.
- kiwami japan makes knives out of things you would not expect knives to be made out of, like milk. There's more chemistry being done than science being taught. Light on narration.
- Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell Hard to spell, fun to watch. This channel is not family friendly for every family because it deals with the end of the universe, the perils of nuclear technology, and other existential topics. My kid came up with nihilistic questions on her own around age four and this channel helped our whole family deal with them. It also has hope, information, and a few practical self-help tips. Engaging animation with a rounded art style.
- Kyle Hill moved on from channel "Because Science" to do his own thing which still includes science, movies, and computer games. He describes himself as "Budget Thor" which I find hilarious. He has gone deeply and thoroughly into nuclear energy and radiation accidents which I watch regularly but it's not a channel I would leave a little kid alone with.
- Mark Rober He was pretty famous before birdwatching during covid lockdown lead him to make a squirrel obstacle course. This follows the Mythbuster's basic method of 1) Find something interesting, 2) Build something to find out more.
- Minute Earth Short videos (often three minutes) on lots of interesting topics.
- Minute Physics Short (one to seven minutes) videos about physics.
- Nile Blue is the quirkier sibling to Nile Red.
- Nile Red Serious chemistry from home. But not from my home; I don't know where to buy that equipment. I don't remember anything child-unfriendly but it's advanced enough to be boring to some kids.
- PBS Space Time Ten to twenty minute videos that assume the viewer already understands basic science.
- Physics Girl Science mysteries, explained.
- Practical Engineering Our kid only watched a few of these but my husband and I love this channel. It's fun to see a boring topic like dirt be taken down to a level of detail that makes it interesting.
- Ryan George The Screen Rant guy covers other stuff! This is comedy and he says some things I wouldn't want kids to repeat to their second grade teachers, but it's often analytical and occasionally sciency.
- SciShow One of the hosts is Hank Green who is always a delight. Short documentaries on various interesting topics.
- The Slow Mo Guys Their high-speed videography incidentally teaches some science.
- Smarter Every Day Destin uses science to look at a bunch of different stuff, not all of which is universally considered kid-friendly like tattoos. My family talked about his backwards brain bicycle for weeks.
- TED-Ed Videos on many topics that are designed for school children to watch and shorter than TED Talks.
- TierZoo The premise is pretending the Earth is a computer game, different species are playable characters, and ranking them. This channel gives a lot of information on a lot of animals, both current and extinct.
- Veritasium gets into pretty deep analysis of science and engineering topics. This channel assumes the viewer already knows a chunk of basic science.
- Vsauce Host Michael talks about very thought-provoking topics. Some might be too creepy for some kids.
- Vsauce2 Host Kevin talks about very thought-provoking topics. Some might be too creepy for some kids.
- Vsauce3 Host Jake talks about very thought-provoking topics. Some might be too creepy for some kids.
- Wired is the channel for the magazine that covers some science and technology and is aimed at adults but I don't recall it being child-unfriendly but it's not the first thing I'd recommended for elementary school students.
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