I was excited by the news that two of my favourite YouTube science channels, Crash Course and SciShow, have unveiled parallel channels for kids.
There’s Crash Course Kids:
And SciShow Kids:
I often include links to the regular Crash Course and SciShow videos in course resources for my undergraduate students (along with our textbook and other resources, of course). I’ve been looking forward to the videos and hope they’re useful for teachers in the primary science classroom.
Crash Course Kids
1.1: Gotta Eat and 1.2: Feed Me
Both Crash Course Kids episodes focus on content described in the Australian Curriculum: Science, drawing together ideas from the Biological Sciences strand from Foundation to Year 6. They are intended for American children in Year 5, but I think it would be appropriate for younger and older kids too, depending on the needs of the learners. The overall pacing is a bit slower than the original channel, although Sabrina, the host, still speaks quite quickly.
This first episode introduces the idea that we eat to gain energy to move and grow. It talks about both plants and animals “eating” to gain energy and introduces the idea of photosynthesis, promising another episode on this idea later. It hints at food chains and emphasises differences between living and non-living things, stating that food is necessary for all living things. This fits nicely with the Year 3 content description “Living things can be grouped on the basis of observable features and can be distinguished from non-living things” (ACSSU044). Sabrina suggests an investigation into plant growth, including two hypotheses (a null hypothesis and a testable hypothesis), describing a method that includes a single control, and then informing of us of the most likely findings (that a plant with added plant food would grow taller than a plant without it over the same period). Although I find her explanation of the results a little simplistic, it is a good model for young children. Here’s the first episode, Crash Course Kids 1.1: Gotta Eat.
And below is the second episode, Crash Course Kids 1.2: Feed Me. In it, Sabrina groups (American) living things into the categories of plants, herbivores, omnivores and carnivores. It builds on the previous episode’s introduction to photosynthesis, and the big idea that living things need energy to grow, change and reproduce. It’s also a very simple introduction to food chains, which don’t arise formally in the Australian Curriculum: Science until Year 7, but are hinted at by preceding content descriptions.
I look forward to future episodes that build on these ideas, bringing students into a good understanding of ecology, living things, and evolution.
The first episode of SciShow Kids also draws from the theme of living things; in this episode, adaptations that keep animals (humans, dogs, and koalas) cool are explored. This fits nicely with the concepts presented in Crash Course Kids. Specifically, the Year 5 Biological sciences strand content descriptor ACSSU043 “Living things have structural features and adaptations that help them to survive in their environment” is partially developed by this video. Jessi’s presentation as host may appeal to students in years 2, 3 and 4, but perhaps older students (years 6/7 and higher) will be a little put-off by the childish enthusiasm of the script and delivery. Watch it for yourself here:
How would you use these channels as a primary teacher of science?