Learning science is a very hands-on experience, but sometimes cost and time limitations keep teachers from demonstrating principles or phenomena as they and the students might want. This article focuses on how one Sacramento-area general science teacher (who did not want his name revealed) used YouTube (http://www.Youtube.com) to make up for shortages in classroom equipment and time limitations.
This particular lesson focused on how temperature and salinity (“saltiness”) affect ocean currents, and highlighted how the so-called Global Conveyer Belt works. This Global Conveyer Belt is a system of currents that moves ocean waters through all the earth’s oceans from the poles to the Equator, across all hemispheres, eventually distributing waters of different temperature and salinity throughout the entire “World Ocean” (see http://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/earth/oceanography/ocean-… A lesson taught the day before featured a link to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) discussion on thermohaline circulation–that is ocean circulation caused by differences in ocean salinity and temperature (http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/education/kits/currents/06conveyor.html.). That website has a very thorough explanation of the phenomenon, and is designed specifically to help in classroom instruction.
Yet despite the quality material that come from places like NOAA, universities, and other teachers, science students still like to see live demonstrations. This demonstration required an aquarium, a hot plate, food dye, salt, water, beakers, and also time to prepare the exhibition and perfect the demonstration technique during the four minutes both teacher and students use to pass between classes. The equipment and time were not available, so he searched the internet for someone who had already performed and filmed the same demonstration. He went to YouTube and found a video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Ww6BIy3nc0&feature=player_detailpage, (the music in the background is “She Blinded Me With Science” authored by Thomas Dolby, and available commercially).
The teacher had previously equipped the classroom with surplus television sets and linked them to the classroom computer. This linkage allowed students throughout the large classroom to see demonstrations, notes, and other instructional activity taking place at the front of the classroom. The YouTube link was embedded in a slideshow run remotely from the computer, so that the teacher could control the pace of presentation: pausing, reversing, or repeating the “show” so that each of the 35 students could ask questions, take notes, and see all the material at their own pace. The teacher was also free to roam the classroom to check notes and talk to students individually to gauge their understanding of what they were seeing.
Science learning is a hands-on demonstration-dependent endeavor, which can be time-consuming and expensive. Using internet resources such as You-Tube, gives resource and money-challenged teachers an assistant that helps them to teach effectively, as in the case of this local general science teacher.