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York chemists use YouTube to become global educators

YouTube videos created by a University of York scientist and his students are attracting a global audience keen to learn more about how chemistry controls everyday life.

Alerted by the educational benefits of YouTube chemistry channels such as ‘Periodic videos’, the Department of Chemistry’s Professor David Smith initially made a series of videos explaining organic chemistry and the ‘amazing molecules’ that can be found in everyday life.

Explaining the chemistry behind various subjects, from painkillers and curries to television shows Breaking Bad and Wonders of Life, Professor Smith aims to minimise the perceived distance between scientists and everyday audiences and to help combat chemophobia – the view that chemicals, and chemistry, are bad things.

Helping to dispel the notion that chemistry is separate from day-to-day life, the videos are used for student revision but have also seen international success, as the audience also includes a non-academic online community. At present, the YouTube channel ‘ProfessorDaveatYork’ has gained more than 400,000 views, 1000 subscribers and 1000 comments.

Videos made by students in the Chemistry department are uploaded to YouTube playlists for easy navigation, building an online chemical community. At present, student videos have been viewed tens of thousands of times, providing a diverse range of student voices speaking on important chemical topics, directly to an audience in their own homes.

Source: University of York

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