Making 2n + 2n Less 4n

Published on Sunday, December 08, 2013 in , , , , ,

The Day The Universe Changed LogoGrowing up, I'd run into educational videos that caught my interest with creative approaches that really helped me remember the concepts.

In this post, I'd like to share several of these videos which have been made available online for free.

JAMES BURKE VIDEOS: I posted about this at the beginning of the year, but I can't recommend James Burke's documentaries too many times.

Back in the late '70s and early '80s, when history was still being taught in the traditional linear manner, James Burke's approach of teaching history in a more real-world, zig-zag style that made it entertaining, and easier to grasp and understand. This zig-zag approach may seem standard to a generation growing up on clicking links on the internet, but in a world where a wide web was still 10-20 years into he future, this was groundbreaking.

About a year ago, the James Burke Web Channel posted the uncut versions of James Burke's video for the first time. If you're new to James Burke's work, I suggest starting where the rest of the world did, with the original series, Connections.

EUREKA!: Physics can often seem to be the most rigorous and boring subject. The series Eureka! (not to be confused with the US or UK series with similar names) managed to add a bit of fun by turning the lessons into 5-minute animated shorts. The narrator would describe the basics, occasionally interacting with an onscreen animated character who only communication via sounds that demonstrated surprise or understanding. It's a fun little series, as you can see by the first lesson below:

TOTAL BREEZE MATHEMATICS: I just mentioned this a few posts ago, but it also bears repeating here. This is an instructional series on mental math techniques that was originally posted on the web by its creators, but then disappeared quickly. Most of the original videos have been reposted online.

The videos below are only available in Flash format, which is usually bad news for people browsing the web from mobile devices which don't use the Flash plug-in. However, through personal experimentation, I have found the Puffin Browser (available for iOS and Android) capable of displaying these videos with little problem.

PROJECT MATHEMATICS!: I first posted about this series in mid-2012, but the videos were scattered across the web, and weren't all available. Since I've posted, many of those videos have been removed from the web.

For the first time, I've found the complete set of Project Mathematics! videos all in one place on the web! Back in the 1980s, California Technical Institute (CalTech) used computer animation and multimedia in a way that had never been seen before, in order to simplify the teaching of high school mathematics concepts. Fun animations of things like a hand cranks to change the values of numbers to show their effects on the math made these subjects much easier to grasp.

The full list of episodes is here, along with an overview of each episode. Although I can't embed the flash videos from the EduOnDemand site, the episode on similarity is available on YouTube:

THE MECHANICAL UNIVERSE: The same CalTech team which put Project Mathematics! together used the same approach to teach college-level physics in the series, The Mechanical Universe. Below is one of the few episodes which can still be found on YouTube:

ALGEBRA: IN SIMPLEST POSSIBLE TERMS: This series, hosted by Sol Garfunkel, used real-world applications to teach algebra concepts to high schoolers. The same company who put out The Mechanical Universe has also made Algebra: In Simplest Possible Terms available online for free. The general style is the same as the CalTech programs, but with its own distinctly different flavor. I don't have an embeddable YouTube video for this show, but a short clip from episode 11, on circles and parabolas, can be watched online.

Hopefully, you'll explore some of these videos, and learn something new when you do. If you have any favorite creatively-produced educational videos, I'd love to hear about them in the comments below!

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