March 2012

Using video in science teaching: Amazing Earth Collection

For the past number of months I have been supervising education students on a school practicum. The students I supervise are future science teachers and they are learning to teach during the 13 month long practicum. I noticed that many of the student-teachers tend to use video clips to bring exciting science phenomena into the classroom. However, I also noticed that the quality of video clips they use varies significantly. Most of the video clips found on the internet have not been created as educational resources – having young students in mind. In addition, it is not always clear if the information in the video one can find on the web has been vetted by the experts… A few days ago I had a chance to watch a video by the Discovery Chanel, called Amazing Earth Collection. I think this is a resource built with the students in mind, that science educators can use successfully to excite their students in science. The resource consists of four programs (video clips) devoted to four different topics relevant to science curriculum in K-12 schools: Amazing Earth; What Lies Below; Earth 2100: Wild Weather Ahead; and Earth: The Sequel.

Each video contains very exciting footage from amazing places all over the world (including Canadian – Rockies), combined with very interesting animations, clearly explained and narrated. The theme of the collection is Earth and Ocean science: geology, weather, Earth’s amazing geography, volcanology, etc. In addition, real scientists are featured¬† – speaking about their research – becoming role models for future generations. I wish, however, more of the featured scientists were women or people from more diverse backgrounds (there are a few women scientists in the movies, but the vast majority of scientists are still white males). However, the women featured in the movies are very inspirational. For example, Nancy Aulenbach is a very¬† experienced caver, who is also a Montessori school teacher: Her collaborators are a biologist and a geologist. This movie (What Lies Below) shows an amazing collaboration and explorations of underground caves. Certainly the places the movies take us are extraordinary – I am sure they will excite the students of all ages. I especially enjoyed how the videos not only showed what we have discovered so far but also focused on what we still do not know and want to find out. I think the video can be used very effectively with Science students, especially in grades 8-10 in general science or in upper grades discussing specific issues. Among the four video clips, I enjoyed the Earth 2100: The Wild Weather Ahead the most. It discusses the effects of the hurricanes (such as Katrina) and the weather patterns that scientists are predicting will be happening on Earth in the near future…

I am not aware if there are educational activities accompanying the programs on this DVD, but I can see how teachers can use it. I will certainly use it with my pre-service teachers when I teach it next time.

For the amazon link to the video, click here:

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