Science TEDx

Fun, interesting science? 11 amazing online sources

Posted by: Ben Lillie

yler-DeWitt-at-TEDxBeaconStreetIn today’s TED Talk, Tyler DeWitt makes a fantastic case for a simple idea: make science fun. Educators and writers get caught up in the idea that science needs to be taken seriously, and forget that the best way to get kids interested is to… make it interesting. Too much emphasis on being accurate can lead to lessons that are incomprehensible, or just flat-out boring. The money quote from DeWitt:

Tyler DeWitt: Hey science teachers -- make it fun Tyler DeWitt: Hey science teachers -- make it fun “If a young learner thinks that all viruses have DNA, that’s not going to ruin their chances of success in science. But if a young learner can’t understand anything in science and learns to hate it because it all sounds like this, that will ruin their chances of success.”

Now to the good news. There are a lot of people doing very fun, very engaging, very non-stuffy science work. If you’re a teacher looking for ways to engage your students, or if you just want to see some science yourself, take a look at these great resources:

Minute Physics. Short videos explaining a physics concept. Sounds simple? It is, and that’s why it’s great. They’re clean, easy to understand, and discuss some of the most fascinating ideas in physics.

Vi Hart. Another series of videos, this time about math. She uses hand drawings and her own amazing way of talking to make math incredibly fun and relevant.

It’s OK to be Smart. A Tumblr with a great idea: post interesting science, and be excited about it. Joe Hanson figured that he could make use of the powerful sharing tools on Tumblr to get fascinating science content out there. And he was right.

Comics! There are a surprising number of amazing web-comics about science. Of course there are the well-loved XKCD and Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, which frequently explain, dissect, and have fun with science. There are many, many others, such as sci-ence, where top-notch comic artist Maki Naro illustrates science comics, with a more in-depth explanation below.

I F***ing love science. One of the most successful Facebook fan pages in existence — it has 3 million likes! Curator Elise Andrew finds funny, awe-inspiring, or otherwise amazing pictures. It’s like LOLcats, but with science.

There are lots of wonderful places to find science news. Two of our favorites that consistently post high-quality ideas in a playful way are io9, and the inimitable BoingBoing.

Of course, there is our very own TED-Ed. Short, beautifully animated lessons for high school students.

There’s also The Story Collider, the story-telling event dedicated to how science makes a difference in lives and changes people. I highly recommend it, but I’m biased because I happen to run it. We have a podcast full of alternately funny and touching science stories.