Seeing the Germs and More

If you haven’t yet seen Mark Rober’s wildly viral How to See Germs Spread video, you should. In fact, stop reading and go watch it right now. The clear demonstration of how germs spread from surface to surface is disconcerting, to say the least, but also clear and easy for young people to understand. Wonder why everyone is saying to wash your hands? Or not touch your face? The video doesn’t begin to address airborne droplets that we are all trying so hard to avoid these days, but it is a good place to start.

Rober has a number of other interesting videos, including Building the Perfect Squirrel Proof Bird Feeder, First Place Mousetrap Car Ideas, and the holiday favorite Porch Pirate vs. Glitter Bomb series. Rober’s videos don’t link directly to most science curricula or state standards but  all of the former NASA engineer’s videos are science-based. They are consistently fascinating and tied to curiosity-inducing topics like the World’s Largest Elephant Toothpaste Experiment. Rober models essential science-supportive qualities like curiosity and persistence, noting the hundreds of hours of experimentation necessary before Elephant Toothpaste success. And he’s fun to watch.

In these mostly-online days, finding science demonstrations that are interesting and virtual is a gift. But Rober can also inspire young scientists to analyze his strategies and create their own videos. How could they create a video to get other students about the science they are studying? Who would be the best audience? Peers? Younger students? How will they keep themselves and everyone else safe? How will they make sure their narration is entertaining? How can they keep their audience’s interest with smaller-scale science efforts? What’s the plan? How can you add to the YouTube science world (at least for your class) during these times when most science experiments must be virtual?

I suspect that Rober can be a catalyst for science-based videos of all kinds, especially those involving enthusiastic young people. I’d love to see some, and I suspect he would, too. And if that was his swimming pool involved in the elephant toothpaste experiment, he must have a very supportive family or an enormous clean-up budget!

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