May The (Mass Times Acceleration) Be With You

posted: Monday, April 24, 2017

“This instrument can teach, it can illuminate; yes, and even it can inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise it's nothing but wires and lights in a box."
-Edward R. Murrow

When those words were spoken over half a century ago, the subject being referred to was the instrument of television. But today, it’s easy to see how the same sentiment can also apply to the Internet, and perhaps more specifically, to YouTube.

21st century learning continues to include technology, with online lecture series and interactive lessons increasingly becoming part of the educational experience at many organizations. And, in addition to cat videos, there are countless educational YouTube channels, each with hundreds of videos, that showcase big questions in science, math, history, etc. in engaging and exciting ways.

One such channel is Veritasium – its name derived from “veritas,” Latin for “truth.” With more than 120 videos covering science and engineering experiments, expert interviews, exciting demonstrations, and discussions with the public, the channel has received critical acclaim.

A video was recently posted on the channel (view here) featuring physics questions that senior school teacher Barry Panas found to be right on topic for his AP Physics classes. He showed the video to his students: the video did not give answers, but challenged the audience to answer them via response videos – a task Mr. Panas was happy to take on! He posted a series of five videos responding to the questions. Together, the videos have been up for one week, and have already received over 20,000 views.

Mr. Panas was thrilled with the results so far, and is primarily pleased that not only has the exercise taught his students some concepts, but has made them excited about physics and science in general. You can view the first of his five response videos by clicking here.