What makes a science video engaging in today's American classroom?
Nelson, Robert P. (Robert Paul), 1945-
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This thesis investigates the fundamental question: "What makes a science film for the classroom effective in helping educators achieve their goals for the largest number of students?" I argue here that effective films take students on a journey. The best films are experiential, taking students on a journey as opposed to telling them what to think. I have also compiled a list of several key ingredients that effective films tend to share: they are generally short, they employ elements of humor and action, they avoid heavy narration, they are accessible using the latest and most widespread technologies, and they are associated with supplemental information and activities for teachers to maximize use of the material. To discuss what makes a film effective, I make the distinction between levels of effectiveness in the classroom. Science films that tend to be more effective are defined here as student ignition points. Those that fall toward the other end of the spectrum, those that are least effective, I define as student snoozers. This thesis is a compilation of almost a decade of thought and application regarding the creation of effective science videos for use in the classroom. The culmination of this work has resulted in the Untamed Science video series that is included in the Miller and Levine high school biology book, the Pearson middle grades science books, the Pearson high school chemistry book, the Pearson elementary science books, and the Untamedscience.com web portal. While the techniques for creating classroom science videos vary due to the intended target age ranges (from kindergarten to 12th grade), there are filmmaking "key ingredients" effectively employed over the entire age range. This discussion focuses on the high school and upper middle grades demographic.