By now, many people have seen or at least heard about Bill Nye the science guy and his rant on YouTube about evolution. Although the high hits for his video are likely due to the controversy that surrounds it, educational video viewing in general is on the rise. NPR reported that educational video viewing on Google's popular social site is up seventy percent from last summer. Maybe kids still like to learn on their summer vacations, or maybe people are tired of silly pet videos, either way, getting kids hooked on learning (and especially science) is getting easier through video.
Minute Physics and ASAP Science are among the more famous science channels on YouTube and Bill Nye has seen searches rising as well for all his videos. The videos help children and adults learn about scientific concepts on mobile devices as well as from a home or school computer. The ability to learn inside and outside of the classroom is nothing new, but with the newer tablets and mobile devices it is becoming more interesting to a larger group of people. It also enables gifted students to learn more than ever. With school districts seeing shrinking budgets all over the United States, many districts have cut expensive and fun hands-on science budgets which leaves many advanced students bored and unable to excel.
Representatives on behalf of Gatton Academy, noted as Best High School by NewsWeek, and Advance Kentucky have been speaking to lawmakers about the benefits of investing in science programs. According to Joanne Lang, Executive Director of Advance Kentucky, "The number of students enrolled in AP Math, Science and English courses has quadrupled since the start of the program five years ago. The number of AP exam scores qualifying for college credit has more than doubled. The talent base in this state is unbeatable. We just have to mine it," she said.
With more and more students searching for educational science videos online when school is out of session, the signs are there that students are interested in science. Hopefully, more and more educational institutions can find ways to pool resources and use free sites like YouTube to share information and raise the learning ceiling for all children. Although, Bill Nye may have some mixed up theories about the importance of evolution, it might be hard for anyone to disprove his theory that, "We need scientifically literate voters and taxpayers for the futureÂ— we need engineers that can build stuff, solve problems."
What do you think? Can social networking sites help children learn more outside of the classroom and progress farther? Do you think more schools should allow social network site access during the school day?