Not too long ago, MIT launched the MIT + K12 program that encouraged its students to create videos teaching basic engineering and science concepts to younger students. Produced in partnership with Khan Academy and found on the popular video site YouTube, the videos are geared towards K-12 students and aim to interest these younger students in the STEM subjects. Click here to check out the MIT + K12 YouTube channel.
Ian A. Waitz, dean of the School of Engineering and the Jerome C. Hunsaker Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics, conceived the idea knowing that less than 5% of all university degrees awarded in the United States are in Engineering, and understanding the challenges facing the teachers who teach these subjects in the K-12 setting.
Students at MIT have access to world class laboratories equipment, professors, and libraries, and these videos often allow the student video creators to bring these tools to the K-12 audience.
Under the MIT+K-12 program, MIT students produce short videos (5-10 minutes long) on topics of their choosing. The MIT K-12 team proposes some topics (called ‘assignments’), the students can choose their own topic, or can choose a topic proposed by another member of the community (educators, students, etc., who can request topics that they’d like to see a video for). If a finished video is selected for the site, the student who produced it receives $1000.
There are currently about 80 videos on the site addressing a variety of topics, including buoyancy, genetic engineering, and how vaccines work. Assignments are arranged by grade level, category, and academic subject. So if you’re a 7th grade science teacher, it would be pretty easy to find videos that would be applicable to your students first by narrowing down the grade level, and then the category and subject. The library of videos is continually growing, so it is definitely worth it to keep checking back.
Create an account
First, sign up to be a part of the community! As I mentioned earlier, videos are continually being added to the site, but if you don’t see something that you want, need, or think would be particularly useful, the best way to get it is to ask! As an educator, you can create an account that allows you to request assignments, which will help you on the road to getting the videos that will be most useful to your classes!
The educator accounts allow another great feature: you can give feedback on the videos that are posted, and on specific assignments. While the students who are creating the videos may be intelligent and have a great understanding of the material, they don’t necessarily have classroom experience, especially with K-12 students, so letting them know what is most and least useful helps the quality of the videos. The easiest, ‘lazy’ way to give feedback is through their ‘like’ feature on the videos and assignments, but the most useful feedback will be a little more elaborated than that.
The more people who use the site and the higher demand for videos will create a more robust offering of videos and topics. And the more videos students create, we’d have to assume they’ll get better and better with practice. So share the site with your colleagues and any interested students you may know! The site even offers options for teachers whose schools have blocked YouTube, so nearly everyone can access the videos without a problem.
If you want to watch these videos in your classroom, but your school blocks YouTube, you can watch the videos on TechTV instead.