Not all screen time is created equal, as we like to say, but when it comes to exploring science, screen time can be an excellent way to stimulate curiosity, explain how things work and begin to visualize the unimaginable. It is also an enjoyable way to spend time with your kids, discussing the natural world, investigating questions and learning together.
My son and his father often spend time together watching YouTube videos and perusing clips from science websites, especially when they are working on a new project and want to ‘do some research’. The projects often involve things exploding (or at least bubbling over in a big mess), so I appreciate the mess-free ‘research’ phase!
When our son, age eight, has questions, we try to figure it out together, showing him the basic process of how to find good information online. For young researchers, this process takes a lot of adult supervision and guidance. By exploring things as they naturally come up in family conversations, even for just a few minutes or two, we also model how to use technology in a way that emphasizes real world connections and strengthens digital literacy (useful for kids and parents, these days).
We encourage families to preview this content (we’ve included general age guidelines) and strike up discussions with your young scientist. Nearly every child will fixate on “why” at some point. In the 21st century we can satisfy that natural curiosity better than ever before, so don’t panic when your child tests your scientific knowledge! These websites are a great place to start, showing young kids that not only are their parents amazing at finding ‘facts’ but are also good teachers, especially when it comes to exploring values and ethics about scientific topics. Being part of this conversation with your kids is something you will treasure for both their education and your own!
Top 5 Educational Science YouTube Channels:
So, without further ado, these five science-themed YouTube channels are ones we highly recommend (including ages we suggest for viewing with or without an adult). We have indicated our best estimate for age-appropriateness, as well as a few comments from Zan (8-year old boy) and his dad Marc (44-year old programmer):
1. Minute Physics – Ages 8+ (Ages 4+, with adult supervision.)
This YouTube channel features short, science demos that include sketches shown over time-lapse, to explain physics topics elegantly, in just a minute (or two). Created by Henry Reich, a physicist, mathematician and filmmaker.
According to Zan: “This is all about the universe, space and earth in short animated videos. The videos are very quick and they add a lot of explanation and details that help even small children understand complicated things a lot better than you would expect.”
According to Marc: “This channel covers physics in-depth in a way that makes complex subjects … like Einstein’s Relativity Theory & Quantum Mechanics, accessible in a way everyone can understand.”
Where to begin? Try out this example about Einstein and the Theory of Relativity:
4. VSauce – Ages 10+ (Ages 6+ with/ adult supervision.)
This is an educational series of science channels on YouTube created by Michael Stevens. VSauce is known for producing videos relating to various scientific topics, as well as gaming, technology, culture, and other topics of general interest.
Acoording to Zan: “A long video about one topic but it sometimes switches to other things, and has a very cool graphic at the end. You learn a lot.”
According to Marc: “This channel covers science topics with videos and narration, jumping from tangent to tangent in a meaningful and humorous way that engages all ages.”
Where to begin? Try this incredible adventure where you travel inside a Black Hole:
We hope you enjoy our suggestions and have a chance to Take Five with your Kids this Holiday Season …