Updated regularly, Numberphile is made by people who truly love math, which is one of the best reasons to share these videos with students. Much of the math can be higher level—likely too esoteric for most kids. However, the friendly hosts also tackle engaging, off-the-beaten-path math topics that can make for some great conversation starters.
Pi — Includes the famous “Mile of Pi” video, wherein pi is printed to a million digits (seriously) and laid flat on an airport runway.
Dice — Everything you’ve ever wondered about dice and probability, and then some.
Celebrity YouTuber Hank Green and friends cover a bevy of fun science topics tailored to the curiosities of their massive YouTube audience. Overall, the channel’s a bit talking-head heavy and covers lots of standard subjects (chemistry, astronomy, etc.). However, plenty of other playlists dive into a variety of pop-science topics. Also: For younger kids, consider checking out the sister channel, SciShow Kids.
Quick Questions — Info-packed and short (most videos run three minutes and under), these videos explore everyday science-related phenomena, like “Why Do Your Eyes Get Red in the Pool?” to “What Does ‘Clinically Proven’ Actually Mean?”
Weird Places — True to its name, this playlist dips into the science behind some of Earth’s stranger natural locales.
An education-focused offshoot from the now-famous TED talks, TED-Ed pairs experts in education and animation to create engaging videos covering an array of curiosity-fueled topics.
Can You Solve This Riddle? — These elaborate, complex, and brain-bending riddles are made more comprehensible through animated explanations.
New TED-Ed Originals — Over 500 (and counting) of TED-Ed’s latest videos, ranging from “How Aspirin Was Discovered” to “What Makes a Poem … a Poem?”
Compelling human-interest stories that tend toward the exceptional, remarkable, and out of the ordinary. THINKR bills itself as “smart entertainment,” but the topics are wide-ranging, from profiles of an innovative science class in a Bronx high school to interviews with Weird Al Yankovic.
Prodigies — An inside look at the Science Genius program, melding hip-hop and science at Compass High School in the Bronx, New York.
Why with Nye! — The notable “science guy” entertains with some interstellar trivia.
These videos don’t merely describe—they actually show interesting and unique science in action. Every video starts with engaging essential questions, then dig in. Beyond conversation pieces, the videos here would probably make great hooks for a lesson or unit.
Misconceptions — A handful of simple, common misconceptions are explained and exploded.
Science Experiments! — This playlist shows actual experiments, some of which could be difficult to replicate in a classroom or school, oftentimes with helpful explanations, motion graphics, and super-slow-mo video.
Vi Hart’s (mostly) math and music videos are genuinely off-the-wall, but in a really great and unique way that’s bound to have broad appeal. Plenty of these videos are fun and engaging enough for younger kids, yet still complex enough to challenge high schoolers (and adults!) to think outside the box.
Mathmusician Stuff — An interesting DIY investigation into the intersections between math and music.
Thanksgiving: Edible Math — Ever wondered how to shape your mashed potato trough to hold the most gravy? Now you can find out.
Note: A lot of videos on YouTube come with advertisements, including those that seem targeted to users’ browsing history (both on YouTube and elsewhere on the web). This is, unfortunately, one of the big trade-offs when using YouTube in the classroom. Many of the channels on the list above have ads. As you select videos to show, be thoughtful about the ads that might come with them and whether or not you want your students to see these.
For more guidance and info about YouTube channels, check out our YouTube tips and reviews for families.
[Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on Common Sense Education.]