November 18, 2018

Take 5… Science video collections showcasing content, exploration, and advocacy

Posted by Laura Guertin

It’s been some time since I’ve written a “Take 5” post, but I keep on coming across some excellent video collections appropriate for scientists, students, and general audiences. Some collections are new, some might be new to you. Why not take a few minutes and explore more of what the online world has to offer beyond GeoEd Trek? If you haven’t seen these videos, the content makes for interesting viewing and great discussions with colleagues, neighbors, and more!


Released in 2018, Let Science Speak ( is a collection of short films, podcasts, editorials, and more, that is “a direct response to escalating efforts to suppress environmental science and silence scientists. Our mission is to inform, engage, and unite America in the face of science censorship.” The following scientists were interviewed and share their views on defending science and scientists in 5-8 minute clips: Dr. Jonathan Foley, Dr. Alan Townsend, Dr. Katharine Hayhoe, Dr. Marshall Shepherd, Dr. Jacquelyn Gill, Dr. Dawn Wright.

Below is a video trailer for the series produced by Generous Films. Consider watching one (or all!) of the video interviews from above, and share with schools, science organizations, and other colleagues (on social media, use the hashtag #LetScienceSpeak).

The British Geological Survey (BGS, was established in 1835 and “focuses on public-good science for government, and research to understand earth and environmental processes”. The BGS YouTube channel, started in 2008, certainly supports their mission. Their overview video About the British Geological Survey presented by Prof. Iain Stewart is an excellent introduction to students that wish to learn more about science and scientists working outside of the United States.

The BGS YouTube channel has several playlists that focus on topics such as soil, landslides, earthquakes, shale gas, geothermal, and more. Below is one example video to showcase the content these videos contain. I hope this encourages you to explore their video collection some more.

From the YouTube video page: Siccar Point – the birthplace of modern geology — Siccar Point on the southeast coast of Scotland is world-renowned in geological science, famous for outcrops that reveal ‘Hutton’s Unconformity’, and is a location rightly regarded by many as the birthplace of modern geology. This video presents a new and unique perspective on Siccar Point and is designed to deliver public knowledge and outreach, and should be widely used in education at school and university levels.

In 2016, Pew worked with the cartoonist behind Sherman’s Lagoon, Jim Toomey, in creating a video series on ocean conservation. This collection of ten videos available on YouTube is a Cartoon Crash Course – a Visual Glossary of Ocean Terminology. Pew’s goal in partnering with Toomey was to explain the complicated concepts that guide efforts to protect our oceans, in approximately two-minute clips.

Here is one of the videos below, on What is Marine Debris? Other ocean terminology videos include: What is Ocean Acidification? What is Illegal Fishing? What is U.S. Fisheries Management? What is Ocean Governance? What are Ocean Zones? What is Bycatch? What is Ecosystem-Based Fishery Management? What are Highly Protected Marine Preserves? What are Forage Fish? The videos are also listed and accessible on Pew’s website. You may also be interested in checking out this video Jim Toomey did with the United Nations Environment Programme titled Two Minutes on Oceans w/ Jim Toomey: The Land-Ocean Connection.

The NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research ( is the one YouTube channel that I have students email me about the most. In addition to NOAA’s archived videos from deep-ocean expeditions, NOAA has live streams while expeditions are underway. NOAA provides all of us access to the same sense of awe and discovery their scientists are experiencing at the same time while out at sea, and this is not lost on my students. The octopus, starfish, and jellyfish videos are fan favorites, and there are several other videos narrated by scientists that explain why exploration of the ocean floor is so important to science and society.

This is one example of a video where students can have the same reaction as the scientists viewing this seafloor scene – helping humanize scientists and showing while sharing part of the observation process in research (as you watch the video, wait for it…)

Let’s not forget that AGU has a Scientific News and Breakthroughs playlist on their YouTube channel! I like using these short clips that highlight findings from research published by AGU to show my students that this is the professional organization and community that I am a part of, and these are what scientists are working on across the globe. Most videos are less than two minutes in length and serve as excellent support to the research presented in a way that words alone cannot.

The ghost dunes of ancient Mars, embedded below, is just one of 75+ examples of videos created from AGU journal articles – in this case, from the JGR Planets paper, Dune Casts Preserved by Partial Burial: The First Identification of Ghost Dune Pits on Mars (note the plain language summary with this article to further accessibility to wider audiences).

And a bonus video – Sounds of melting glaciers could reveal how fast they shrink, from The Intensity, Directionality, and Statistics of Underwater Noise From Melting Icebergs in Geophysical Research Letters (also with a plain-language abstract).


To explore the use of video in the classroom, you may want to check out these sources:

    • SERC’s Teaching With Video topical resource –
    • Wiggen & McConnell (2017), Geoscience Videos and Their Role in Supporting Student Learning, Journal of College Science Teaching, 46(6): 44-49. [Abstract, Blog post, Paper]
    • GSA 2018 Annual Meeting Session – T70. Geoscience Animations and Videos As Tools for Learning: Using Them in the Classroom, Making Them, and Assessing Their Impact [Abstracts]
    • Journal of Geoscience Education papers that address use of video [Search results]