Kids love watching YouTube videos. However, if your kids are anything like mine, they spend most of their time watching Let’s Play videos of Minecraft and Lego Marvel Super Heroes!
I have nothing against these types of videos (as long as they’re kid-friendly). They’re a great way for kids to learn about tips and mods for their favourite games. However, wouldn’t it be nice if our kids could also learn other stuff from YouTube? Like science, for example?
Fortunately, there are some fantastic YouTube channels out there that are dedicated to bringing science topics to the general public. While these channels are not specifically focused on kids, they’re mostly kid-friendly. They’re also exciting and inspiring to watch, and your kids will definitely pick up some fascinating science facts to amaze their friends with!
Let’s take a look at some of the best YouTube science channels that you can enjoy with your kids. I recommend watching these with your kids for a couple of reasons:
- Some of the concepts and language can get pretty involved, and younger kids will need you to explain things as they watch.
- In some videos there are some mild drug or sex references, or the occasional gory moment, that make the videos more suitable for teens and adults than kids. There’s nothing particularly graphic, but as with most YouTube channels, I recommend checking out the videos before choosing to watch them with your kids. I also recommend enabling YouTube’s Safety Mode, which will filter out most of the worst offenders.
With all that said, you can usually find many videos that younger kids can understand and enjoy too!
Created and hosted by Derek Muller, Veritasium explains a wide range of scientific concepts and phenomena in an engaging, lively way. One of the key ways Derek does this is by dispelling public misconceptions about science.
For example, How Far Away is the Moon? shows that the Moon is a lot further away than many people think. Misconceptions About Temperature explains what is actually happening when we feel a “warm” or “cold” object, and Where Do Trees Get Their Mass From? succinctly explains the carbon cycle:
A good place to start on Veritasium’s channel is the New Here? Try These! playlist.
Run by Mitchell Moffit and Gregory Brown, AsapSCIENCE uses whiteboard animations to explain everything from how your brain works through to the physics of stopping an asteroid (featuring Bill Nye the Science Guy).
Most of the videos focus on biology, although the channel also touches on chemistry, technology and physics.
To get a taste of AsapSCIENCE check out their most popular video, Which Came First — The Chicken or the Egg?:
Created and presented by physicist Henry Reich, MinutePhysics conveys often quite complex physics topics in short, easy-to-understand videos. In each video, Henry uses nicely-drawn animations and a clear voiceover to explain the concepts.
There are tons of fascinating videos answering all the questions that kids (and grown-ups!) tend to ask, including: Why are stars star-shaped?, Why is the sky blue?, and How do rainbows work? (The last two are explained in just ten seconds each — an impressive feat!)
Here’s something I’ve always wondered: Is it better to walk in the rain, or run?
MinuteEarth is a spin-off channel created by Henry Reich of MinutePhysics fame and others. It covers the physics, chemistry and biology of our planet, including a great explanation of why rivers meander, how trees survive winter and what skin is for.
The videos include animations, images and movie clips, as well as excellent narration.
Check out Where Did Earth’s Water Come From? The answer may surprise you!
It’s Okay To Be Smart
From PBS Digital Studios comes It’s Okay To Be Smart, a well-produced science channel hosted by biologist and science writer Joe Hanson. The channel is nicely divided into playlists covering biology, physics, space and Earth.
There are some great answers for curious minds here, including Where Does the Smell of Rain Come From?, What is Wind? and Why Do We Cook?. One of my favourite videos is When Science Fiction Becomes Science Fact:
There’s also an accompanying blog that’s worth a look.
Another excellent offering from PBS Digital Studios, BrainCraft is a channel all about psychology and neuroscience hosted by science communicator Vanessa Hill. The videos manage to be intriguing and informing without getting too technical for kids to follow.
You can discover how optical illusions work, find out if smiling can make you happy, or learn how knitting can be good for you.
I love this one that explains why sleep is a good thing:
Hank Green hosts this entertaining and often amusing science channel that covers the whole gamut of science, from chemistry and physics through to biology, astronomy, psychology and computer science. There are playlists for science news, the world’s most asked questions, the weirdest places on Earth, and more.
Some gems include What Happens After You Flush?, What Is Energy? and The Strange Anatomy of Hummingbirds. And what kid can resist The Smelly, Oozy, Sometimes Explode-y Science of Garbage?
Also, if your kid is interested in space, there’s a spin-off channel called SciShow Space. This answers tons of space questions like What’s it like on Venus? and Where did the Moon come from?. This video succinctly explains how astronauts train for living in microgravity:
Have fun watching!
I hope this article has given you some ideas for great science videos to watch with your kids. There really is an amazing range of stuff out there. If you want more, I can also recommend checking out my article on chemistry videos, websites and apps for kids.
Do you know of any other excellent YouTube science channels that are good to watch as a family? Please let me know in the comments below!
[Image credits: Plasma lamp by Diliff (CC BY), edited]
I love the YouTube channel Smarter Every Day, which is at https://www.youtube.com/user/destinws2 . We also enjoy Brain Scoop, which is at https://www.youtube.com/user/thebrainscoop, although I’ll warn you that some of those episodes are about doing exactly what’s in the title. 🙂 The hosts of both of those shows are engaging and excited about science, which really draws my teenaged son in. 🙂
Thanks for your comment Bobbi! 🙂 I love those two channels also – I left them out of the list because some of the episodes I watched didn’t seem appropriate for younger kids. But yes, they are really good!
Cool I did not now that???