I am no chemistry expert, but I have a strong suspicion that the periodic table has never been this much fun.
Fun you say? Chemistry? Yes, Chemistry.
The Periodic Table of Videos, put together by video journalist Brady Haran and Professor Martyn Poliakoff at the University of Nottingham, is a great example of what you can do with a video camera, some inspiration, a dash of sodium and a group of eager scientists. The result is an interactive periodic table with each element represented by a video. Here’s the sodium video:
In all seriousness, you have to love it when a chemistry professor says that, during the course of making these videos, they discovered new things which they never really realized before. It was through the act of creating this project that learning took place. This is a point that Educause makes in 7 Things You Should Know About YouTube.
Many educators believe that the act of creating content—in virtually any form—is a valuable learning exercise, helping develop a deeper understanding of the subject matter and the tools used to create that content. To the extent that YouTube facilitates such creation, it has the potential to expose students to new insights and skills, as well as link them to various online communities.
The good professor also speaks to that point; the linking to various communities and the value of transparency. Rather than locking this resource away, they made it free and open on the web using a simple website and YouTube as the video delivery platform. This allowed people from anywhere to comment on the videos. And comment they did. In fact, one user asked if they ever considered expanding into molecules, which got the gears turning for Professor Poliakoff and has inspired him to continue on now that all the elements in the periodic table have been covered. Transparency breeds inspiration.
I also love this quote:
I’ve realize that, in the past 5 weeks, I’ve lectured to more people than the whole of the rest of my life.
Okay granted, the dynamic periodic table probably beats the periodic table of videos for information and functionality (itself compete with a nifty Wikipedia integration that makes me go yum). I can’t say for sure, I am not a chemist. But for sheer learning fun, the periodic table of videos is an excellent example of a very well done open educational resource.