Let’s be honest – we all miss the Magic School Bus. It was a great day when the teacher pulled the TV cart into the room, grabbed the VHS from the desk, and just let Mrs. Frizzle teach us, right? (Please tell me I’m not the only one old enough to remember TV carts in school).
This might sound weird, but I kind of really think that Youtube is the Magic School Bus of today. I honestly adore so very many of the things that Youtube encompasses and allows us to be.
Yes, it’s got the overabundance of cute animals doing bizarre things, teenagers doing stupid things and a variety of music videos. It’s a slippery slope to an afternoon (and an evening) of mind-numbing giggling – and that’s totally okay. It’s not the worst way to spend your time.
My favorite part of Youtube, though, is the education corner – the bit where people teach you things. You can learn about basically anything, although I won’t guarantee that you can learn everything. There are laws. My roommates have learned how to use our weed wacker, how to crochet, and for some reason that I’m still not super clear about, how to clean a gun.
I’d like to give you some direction as to whom to look for, depending on what you want to learn about.
I couldn’t ever really get the hang of science in school, so my educational Youtube subscribe list is pretty full of science channels. My absolute favorites? SciShow and The Brain Scoop.
SciShow is generally hosted by Hank Green and has a pretty broad range of topics, and claims that “with equal parts skepticism and enthusiasm, we go a little deeper…without going off the deep end. Most of the time, anyway.” Their recent episode was about the extremely awesome human Carl Sagan, and they’ve discussed what we do with dead bodies, and why there are righties and lefties and fairy rings, to name but a few. Short, sweet and to the point, SciShow knows what it’s about and has fun helping us know too.
The Brain Scoop started out as a sort of day-in-the-life of Emily Graslie, who, at the time, volunteered at the University of Montana Zoological Museum. She told us about how specimens get into the museum, how they’re prepared and, memorably, she showed us how to skin a wolf (there’s a gross-o-meter when you get to those episodes – trust me, you’ll want to pay attention).
Emily has since gone from volunteering to working at the Field Museum in Chicago, and now she talks about all of the ridiculously incredible things they have there. She also helped to skin an anteater. She’s incredibly enthusiastic about nature and all of the truly absurd forms of life on our planet, which makes The Brain Scoop a lot of fun to watch.
If you want even more science, I would also recommend trying out MinutePhysics, Veritasium and the Chemistry, Ecology, and Biology playlists on Crash Course.
I love history – I really, really do. That being said, I really only watch two history channels: the World History and U.S. History playlists on Crash Course. Hosted by John Green, both of these playlists look at history differently than any history class I’ve ever taken, because nothing happens in isolation. History is a chain of dominoes.
Crash Course has this awesome partnership with a company called Thought Café, and they do really brilliant animations for each episode. It has a very laid-back sort of vibe, but don’t let that throw you off. This is serious stuff, and I, at least, feel like a better human being for having watched it.
General life tips?
One of my favorite things to do is to watch videos about how to deal with real-life situations. You know, the ones that you feel like you should know how to handle because you’re an adult, but somehow you must have missed the memo because, what is even happening right now?
There’s this guy, Mike Falzone, and he has a channel (Mike Falzone) where he pretty much just gives you advice in a super funny kind of way. You’re a guy and you want to move in with your girlfriend? Mike’s got your back for that. Your parents think your significant other is a problem? You want people to think you’re interesting? Go talk to Mike. He might not have the answers you’re looking for, but I promise he’ll make your day better.
Another channel that more or less falls into this category: TED. If you haven’t heard about TEDTalks, I don’t know what rock you’ve been living under. TEDTalks can take different formats, but the gist of them is that people who are doing amazing things in the world, be it through art, technology, poetry, teaching or just generally living life in a different way, get up on a stage and give a talk.
TEDTalks are the most inspiring things I’ve ever watched, and even though they can make me feel like I’m not doing enough with my life, they also make me feel like I can actually have an effect on the world.
Here are some other channels to check out: Vihart, which is doing really amazing things with math. Vsauce, CGP Grey and The Mental Floss List Show are also doing some awesome general knowledge stuff.
I really hope that you all take these recommendations to heart, go forth into the miraculous void that is the Internet and learn!