There’s a new scientific revolution on YouTube, where creators are explaining the extraordinary science at work in our ordinary lives.
Highly recommend this look at science educators on YouTube from Simon Owens. It features a conversation with our friends at ASAPScience and how they developed their particular approach to making science videos.
I think lots of science creators, YouTube and otherwise, draw our motivation and genesis from the same place. These are things that we already feel passionate about explaining and teaching, and we’ve been dropping science on our friends (whether they like it or not) and/or students for years. It’s a pretty natural step for us to do that online, because that’s the nexus of our lives.
There’s ever-fewer gatekeepers defining who gets a chance to make something and whose voice gets heard. We’ve gone from a one-to-many teacher-student relationship to a many-to-many everyone-is-a-teacher relationship. How ironic that science education is teaching people that the world really is flat.
I disagree with Simon on one thing, though. He writes that science shows on YouTube have gotten popular because of a greater pop culture trend, like Neil deGrasse Tyson on The Daily Show and the success of Mythbusters. I think anyone who watches TV knows that precisely the opposite is true. The outlets we once turned to for science and critical thinking now do stuff like this, and to them, “reality” is now a type of programming, not a thing to showcase or educate about.
Science on YouTube is so popular because people are genuinely curious and enjoy learning about the wondrous ways the world works. TV banked on underestimating people’s intelligence and disregarded any desire to use their brains. We’re trying to do the opposite. Who’s your money on?