Crash Course provides fun, quirky videos on chemistry, history, psychology, etc. The videos are an entertaining introduction into a full college semester on different topics. The series on chemistry, biology and psychology, for example, each have 40 or more videos. They are professionally produced and move quickly through topics in a dynamic way. The videos include a combination of the history of science (Einstein proved that atoms exist by modeling the mathematics that explained Brownian motion, for example) and explanations of the basic science (atoms are defined by the number of protons), illustrated through goofy animations.
As a teacher new to teaching science, putting the science in a historical context has helped me start to understand how understandings of the physical world build upon each other. Anecdotes about the lives of scientists also kept me listening during some technical explanations of the science, when i might have started to space out.
I especially like The Nucleus, the first video in a series of videos on chemistry. The video explains chemistry’s connection to other science and defines some basic concepts that are useful in chemistry (atomic number, atomic mass and isotopes).
There was one piece of the video that is bugging me. The video explained, in a super speedy way, something that has confused me in the past: Why the atomic mass of many elements is a weird number with a decimal fractions. How is that possible if each atom has a specific number of protons, which defines the element? Shouldn’t the mass be a whole number? For example, silver (AG) has an atomic mass of 107.8682. Atomic mass, as the video explains, is the sum of the number of protons and the number of neutrons. So, is there one proton that is .8682 in size? That doesn’t make sense. The explanation for this goes by quickly, so you might have to rewind a few times. I think I do understand it now, but this is an example of when I would have like the presenters to slow down a bit. The math here is glossed over a little more than I would like.1
Overall, this is a great resource for teachers, like me, who are suddenly in the position of teaching science and needs some background information (and interesting anecdotes) to bring to the classroom.
1Here are a couple detailed explanations of average atomic mass:
How can an atomic mass be a decimal number?
Why are there decimals on the periodic table? (video)