The more experience I gain as an adult, the more I am becoming precious about my time. I do not want to waste it — When I lie in bed at night and reflect back on my day, I want to feel asleep knowing that I have -in some way- become a better human being.
I find that is easier to learn new things when you are surrounded by people. With the current covid-19 pandemic and the need for social distancing, we are all relegated at home. But I did not want to give up my resolution. Between Netflix, Steam and Amazon Kindle, we have endless hours of series to watch, games to play and books to read.
While I am enjoying my re-discovered reading times, I went on the hunt for the best way to fill the rest of my leisure time. Of my free 6 hours per day (removing my daily job, chores, and reading), most of them are dedicated to blogging, drawing and volunteering for the Marie Curie Alumni Association. These are things I enjoy but are also quite tiring. With any time left, I wanted to do something light and cheerful, but with a kick.
And for someone with a hunger for science and knowledge like me, the STEAM Youtube Landscape was the perfect scavenging ground. Here I collected my favorite women-led Scicomm Youtube Channels that I hope will help you through these difficult times.
You probably already know her, with her 2M+ subscribers. But I only discovered her recently and I immediately fell in love with her work. I like the quirky machines she builds, her sense of humor and her incredible creativity. From fighting brain tumor to resolving to cut pieces of an old fan because the measurement was off a bit, she embraces challenges as an opportunity for growth. Teaching us all that “welding like a girl” can be the most bad-ass compliment you might receive in your life.
Physics girl (by Dianna Cowern)
Another big name in the field, but repeating the obvious does not hurt. In case you don’t know her, I bet you can still guess the focus of her videos: physics. What I particularly like is her energy. The videos are educational and accurate. But the fact that she looks always so excited about the topics she picks, make her videos perfect for both adults and kids.
If you are a physicist, many videos might look trivial and obvious to you — because she really breaks down the physics to its essential concepts for her target audience. And yet, you will still find interesting riddles and ideas that can challenge a physicist’s mind. As a physicist myself, I even enjoy the broken-down explanation: I find it always interesting to see how other people simplify physics to its essential core — if you have time left, after watching Dianna’s videos, this simplification process is a great exercise to try, and not as easy as you might think.
I discovered Ariel’s work by attending a lecture she gave at the 17th Advanced Imaging Methods at UC Berkeley. I left the room energized and inspired.
Ariel had the most amazing and unconventional career, landing in the field of microscopy from a degree in the arts. She worked for and with NASA, she is the creator behind the Science Hack Day, and she led an expedition to Antarctica to bring back microscopy videos that we all can enjoy — the homepage opens on a cute tardigrade, in case you need an additional incentive to click on the link.
The Youtube channel has docu-reports of her adventures and little pearls of quirky knowledge worth sharing.
BrainCraft (by Vanessa Hill)
I spend a lot of my time trying to understand the weird thoughts going on in my head. If you also have a curiosity for the mind and the brain, or if you simply want to dig deeper and understand a little bit more about yourself, Vanessa Hill might just be the answer for you. Plus, her video are deliciously made! The direction of the videos and associated graphics are a great form of Sciart in themselves.
Sally Le Page
Underrated biologist and science communicator, Sally deserve way more followers than the 71k+ she currently has. While she primarily focuses on biology, her video talks about science 360 degrees. As a physicist, I loved the explanation about radioactive decay! Not only it was accurate and understandable, but I found her idea to film an entire video about bananas with the only sound of Geiger radioactive counter simply genius. And this is just one of many. Highly recommended.
Danielle uses Lego to explain and talk about technology and the digital world. She is also funny and prepared. The videos are short but packed with information that will surely catch your attention and ignite your curiosity. It’s unfortunate that she is currently on a hiatus, and her last video is 10 months old.
But there is enough material to keep you company for this period of social distancing, and if you subscribe you will be notified when she will be out again in the digital world.
New and noteworthy
Here are a few channels on the rise. They are still small, but they are packed with cool ideas and potential.
Ohyeahfranzi (Franziska Sattler)
Half Scicomm, half travel vlogs, Franziska’s videos allow you to experience the life of a science communicator. Like how to run a science communication program or what social distancing means for Scicomm. Plus, if you are stuck at home and you wish to virtually travel the world through greatly edited vlogs, you can find it all at Ohyeahfranzi.
Valerie Benti and Bruno the Blue Ukulele
Valerie’s channel is still small, but it has already a lot of character! I know her personally, we were in the same Ph.D. program and we recently self-published a Science Artbook together. She is now wandering the land of Science Comedy, hosting her own Geeky Open Mic in Seattle (moved now on Instagram live — so that we can all joining maintaining a healthy social distancing). Go check her funny songs: you will not be sorry.
There are a few notable mentions, like Gross Science and ScIQ (the first interrupted since the host has started new jobs at the Washington Post and FiveThirtyEight, the second on hiatus for personal reasons).
And I would like to share Kurzgesagt — In a nutshell . I do not know who is behind the production of the channel, but it is by far my favorite SciComm channel on YouTube, and I want to share it how much as I can.
And if you have more time in your day to fill with knowledge, Coursera has opened many courses for free. Check them out!
Stay home, stay safe and have fun!