YouTube for Cool Math Teachers

Let’s face it, everyone loves a good YouTube video.  And students automatically view you as a tiny bit cooler just for showing them a video on YouTube.  I feel like I’ve just begun exploring YouTube for use in the classroom (I know I’m really late getting on this bandwagon…but for a while it was a real pain in the ass just to access YouTube at our school even on a teacher account)

I always show this really lame video that demonstrates volume of a prism vs. volume of a pyramid.  It compares a prism and a pyramid with the same base area and height and uses water to show you can fill the pyramid three times and pour it into the prism.  (Sorry to the creator for calling it lame)  I must admit, I’ve used it a lot, so half of the views are probably mine.  Plus, I haven’t made my own video that’s any better so I can’t complain.  But I challenged my students to make a better video one year, and they came up with some pretty hilarious stuff but it didn’t quite get the point across as effectively (or quickly) as the simple lame video.  My only real complaint is – why did they have to use yellow water??  It always evokes a huge & distracting “ewwwwww” from the class before the demonstation even gets going.

So far, my favorite videos to show to students (especially geometry kids) are Vi Hart’s videos and I love her series “Doodling in Math Class” about spirals & the golden ratio and more.  There is a series of three that are each about 6 minutes long.  I showed them last year to my Honors Geometry classes whenever I had 6 minutes to spare.  After all three, I was satisfied knowing that their curiosity had been piqued and that they had started to see some natural connections between math and science.  Of course, the “honors” kids were interested….but I decided that I shouldn’t deprive my non-honors geometry students.  Surprisingly, they were just as interested, if not more.  We were doing a unit on constructions with a compass and a ruler when I showed the non-honors group.  One girl came up to my desk a week or so later to show me a drawing – it was a pretty awesome flower that she had created with a compass and she was inspired by the Vi Hart videos.  And this is a girl who had told me she hated math.  I was thrilled at just the possibility that she had seen a connection between something she loved (art) and MATH!

I’m pretty much a fan of all of Vi Hart’s videos.  Here’s a link to her YouTube channel although I don’t know what kind of new stuff we’ll be seeing there now that she’s employed at Khan Academy.  From what I’ve seen of her page on the Khan Academy website, it looks like the same videos that are on her YouTube channel.

What are your favorite YouTube videos to show in math class??


2 responses to “YouTube for Cool Math Teachers”

  1. Paul Gitchos says :

    Vi Hart is so great. A couple years ago while subbing for a Jr. High English teacher I “caught” two girls doing Vi’s circle-in-triangle doodles, when they should have been studying Hamlet!
    The film “Between the Folds” (Netflix, not Youtube) is a real beauty; I’m showing it, in sections, in Geometry this year.
    Thank you for your posts!

  2. GregT says :

    I don’t even need to click on the video to know that’s one I’ve shown too (the yellow water remark gives it away). Sometimes I use the green version which is the cone and cylinder; sometimes I try to do an actual demo (or have them do it), though usually not with water.

    I haven’t shown Vi Hart in class, mostly because I only discovered her last May or June and haven’t gone back through the archive yet. I have shown some TED talks – Arthur Benjamin has one on squaring which is good for a snowy day, while Hans Rosling and Peter Donnelly are great for statistics.

    I’ve got a Mythbusters clip too for scatterplots (um… this looks like a copy of it: ). It’s brilliant because I get to ask why time is on the vertical axis (answer: because it was actually their dependent variable, they were controlling distance) and whether the line actually goes perfectly through all the points Adam lists (answer: it doesn’t, the three points aren’t perfectly collinear). Mythbusters have also tested the Monty Hall Problem experimentally, nice for probability.

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