Online Science Ambassadors

Forget the equations and textbooks for a moment. To spark a curiosity for STEM education—particularly in middle and high school students—it can be useful to shake off the language of the classroom and meet kids where they are: watching videos on the internet.

Science Out Loud, a web series by MIT+K12 Videos with four seasons under its belt, does just that. Four-minute YouTube videos irreverently delve into subjects like, “Why Do We Have Snot?” and “What Is a Fractal (and What Are They Good For)?” MIT students write, produce, and host the engaging videos, letting their own personality and natural enthusiasm for research shine through.

“We want to leverage the amazing community of students and people at MIT to challenge people’s notions of what scientists and science look like, while sparking curiosity and agency among young people,” says Elizabeth Choe ’13, program director and executive producer. Fittingly, Choe (who participated in the pilot round of videos as a student filmmaker at MIT) teaches the subject 20.219 Becoming the Next Bill Nye, which is one way students can get involved with Science Out Loud. Other pathways to participation include an MIT+K12 Video Educational Media Fellowship and the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP).

MIT+K12 Videos is an outreach media program of the Office of Digital Learning, and also an activity of the pK-12 Action Group, an effort to bring MIT’s “mind and hand” learning approach into schools from pre-kindergarten to grade 12. Other video series include #askMIT, in which any K-12 student can submit a video posing MIT researchers a question (“Could you make a robot with feelings?” “Why don’t we use all of our brain cells?”), and Physics Demos geared to high schoolers, with more series in the works.