Best Educational YouTube Channels for Homeschoolers

Best Educational YouTube Channels for Homeschoolers

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Over the last few years, YouTube has exploded with content made by experts in their field. Some of them are very talented at sharing concepts in creative ways. These channels are the reason it’s fun to make a YouTube Playlist for your students. Today’s post is all about the Best Educational YouTube Channels for Homeschoolers.

As always with internet content, previewing is a good idea. While many of these vloggers have great things to share, you want to be sure it is right for your family.

Math Channels on YouTube

Videos are a great way to enjoy math and these YouTube videographers have some fabulous content for us. Apart from curriculum math, I love the way these channels make us think about math. You’ll find everything from tutorials and instruction to current events and new ways to think about mathematical concepts.

  • ViHart– You may know her from Kahn Academy videos, but she has a style all her own. She has some fast paced videos which are sure to keep your attention and keep you thinking.
  • Numberphile– Just like the name suggests, this guy loves numbers and so will you after spending some time here.
  • Computerphile– A channel about all things computers. I know our youngest would adore this channel!
  • Kahn Academy– There’s a tutorial for everyone here! Math, science, languages, etc. These are individual videos, but on their website you can take courses as well. Our youngest enjoys the courses on computer science.
  • WowMath– This is a harder core lesson channel for high school math. Calculus anyone?
  • Professor Leonard– Another channel dedicated to math education.

This video from ViHart is all about the hexaflexagon. After watching it, our daughter made a bunch of them. Try it!

YouTube Science Channels

Science is an easy video topic with many science enthusiasts making contributions. If you have a favorite not listed here, please share it with us!

    • Mythbusters– Who doesn’t love this fun concept of busting or proving common conceptions (or misconceptions) in the physical world?
    • Vsauce– This guy tackles fun science questions like, “What is the speed of dark?”.
    • MinutePhysics– Fun physics videos that teach us why things are the way they are in the world around us
    • Periodic Videos– These are fun videos based on elements in the Periodic Table of the Elements.
    • SciShow– Fun videos on science concepts with an engaging format.
    • MinuteEarth– A fun look at earth science and conservation concepts
    • Veritasium– An element of truth. A look at science from the angle of misconceptions we may believe.
    • Sixty Symbols– Cool videos on physics and astronomy
    • How It’s Made– Our kids love this show! Now you can view episodes and clips on how everyday objects are made in factories around the world.
    • Cornell Lab of Ornithology– All things birds on this channel. If you are a nature enthusiast, then this is a great place to start.
    • Peterson Field Guides– Add a visual to your birding with these videos
    • BrainCraft– A show about neuroscience. Cool things to learn about our brains and the way they work!
    • ASAPscience– A weekly dose of fun science

Ethan, our 11th grader, suggested this video from VSauce to share with you. It’s a perfect illustration of the fact that many of these YouTube personalities talk about a variety of subjects. Just know that I grouped channels together reasonably well, but you will find these folks stepping out of their niche from time to time. While VSauce is mainly science, this video talks about language and how we use it. This is a fun look at words!

History Content Channels at YouTube

It’s easy to find video web content on historical topics, but it’s nice to have it all in one place. These are a few of our favorites when it comes to history and social studies in general. Sometimes you can catch full episodes of shows and other times, it’s only a clip.

  • CrashCourse– This channel has all sorts of subjects including historical and political content.
  • History Channel– You can find clips and full episodes of shows on the The History Channel.
  • Brain Bubble TV– Be smarter in 60 seconds. All kinds of questions and historical topics covered here. Probably other subjects too.
  • Mental Floss– A weekly trivia channel for knowledge buffs!

Tips for Using YouTube in Your Homeschool

Since most of us probably don’t need another reason for our students to sit in front of a screen, what are some ways to use YouTube effectively?

  • Sick days– You know those days when your kids aren’t totally sacked out, but they aren’t up for doing their regular school work? That’s a great day for a YouTube play list on math or science.
  • Traveling– Educational and reasonable when you have long road trips and you’ve played out the alphabet game
  • Waiting Time– I love to pass the time in doctor’s waiting rooms with a good math video. We’ve had quite a year of therapies and dr’s appts and this keeps the kids thinking.
  • Enhancement– Of a concept they are already looking at. Doing geometry in math? Find a fun video on Pi.
  • Inspiration– ViHart is a great artsy math example for our artsy daughter. She loves to watch math doodling videos and give them a whirl. It’s also good for introducing new vocabulary like, “fractals”.
  • Project Ideas– When our kids are working independently on their own projects, they can find help with a simple search.

Tools for Using YouTube in Your Homeschool

So, what do you need to get started using YouTube channels? Families are in different places with technology. Most people have a desktop computer, but not everyone has a mobile device. Here are some ideas:

  • Desktop Computer– There’s nothing wrong with saddling up and watching at the desk.
  • TV– Using a Wii which can access the internet. This is a great choice if you want a lot of people to see the video at once.
  • Tablets– Like iPads and Kindle Fires. If your family does not have a tablet, then I recommend the Kindle Fire. It’s a very economical way to enter the world of tablet computing and it’s a great product for internet consuming!
  • Mobile Apps– If you do have a tablet or a phone, you can use a YouTube App to view your playlists easily. I was even able to add to my playlists on my phone.
  • Playlists– If you want to have the lists of videos made ahead of time, then you can make a playlist. How to Make a YouTube Playlist is a tutorial on how to do just that!

How to Make a YouTube Playlist

Other Technology Posts at Blog, She Wrote

As I have become a user of some savvy tools in our homeschool, I like to share not only our experience but also how others can make use of the same tools. Enjoy some posts on technology in homeschool:

  • Managing the Internet in Your Home– All about how to use your router to filter content along with how to put access controls in place for your family’s devices. My husband Dan did a great job making this accessible to readers.
  • How to Make a YouTube Playlist– In case you missed this link and want to make customized playlists for school subjects.
  • How to Use Google Earth in Your Homeschool– Tutorials, lessons, and ideas on using this digital globe.
  • How to Homeschool with a Kindle– This page shares with you all my posts using a Kindle (both the reader and the tablet) in your homeschooling. Most people aren’t aware of all the features a Kindle offers. These have been invaluable in our studies.

What are your favorite YouTube channels? Please share them in the comments!

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Comparing the Accuracy of Liquid Measurement Tools

Blog, She Wrote: Comparing the Accuracy of Liquid Measurement Tools

Have you ever thought about how accurate your volumetric measuring tools are? How do you know your measuring cup is calibrated? Is it good science to use your kitchen tools for science? Today’s discussion is Comparing the Accuracy of Liquid Measuring Tools.

Are All Volumetric Measuring Tools the Same?

Blog, She Wrote: Comparing the Accuracy of Liquid Measurement Tools

The gold standard in measuring volume is the Volumetric Flask. It’s a laboratory flask which is calibrated precisely to a certain volume at a particular temperature. They come in various sizes from 1-10,000 mL of liquid. But, they are also expensive and they are typically not found in classroom labs or homes because neither work with extremely precise volumes of liquid.

So, what do we use instead? The rule of thumb is to use the graduated cylinder. With all the markings on the cylinder, it is considered more accurate than other volume measuring tools. But, is there a big difference? We decided to test them to see.

Tools for Measuring Volume

Blog, She Wrote: Comparing the Accuracy of Liquid Measurement Tools

What are some tools available for measuring volume?

  • Beakers– Are containers primarily used for mixing and heating. There are markings on them for measuring, but they are meant to be approximate.
  • Measuring Cups– The liquid measuring kitchen variety. We use Pyrex brand.
  • Erlenmeyer Flasks– These are wide bottomed but not circular with a neck that can use a stopper (with or without holes). It makes a good reaction vessel and allows a larger area for smaller volumes.
  • Florence Flask– This is a round bottomed flask used for boiling solutions.
  • Field Collecting Tubes– These are screw top collecting tubes which come in 15 mL or 50 mL and they are terrific for collecting aquatic specimens in the field. We use them during our entomology excursions.
  • Pipettes– Used for moving small volumes of water or removing liquid in small increments. I like the disposable kind because the cleaning is much easier!
  • Graduated Cylinder– Are used for measuring volumetric quantities. They range in size from 10- 1000 mL. If you are going to choose only one, the 100 mL size is a good one.

So, if you want to use something other than what’s found in your kitchen, where do you get them? We use Home Science Tools. We order some specialty items, like collecting tubes, from BioQuip. Just for fun, we also visited our local university’s chemistry supply room. Armed with gift money, our then 8 year old, took a trip with Dad to pick out his own glassware.

Testing the Accuracy of Volume Measuring Tools

Blog, She Wrote: Comparing the Accuracy of Liquid Measurement Tools

Since we used the graduated cylinder as our gold standard, we chose to determine the final volume in a graduated cylinder. Our procedure:

  • Choose a beaker, flask, or collecting tube and fill it with water to the highest marked volume in mL.
  • Record that volume in your data chart which will be labeled with the containers you are using.
  • Pour the contents of the first container into the appropriately (closest) sized graduated cylinder available.
  • Measure the volume of water in the graduated cylinder
  • Record the volume.
  • Repeat using various sized measurement tools.

How to Record Data When Doing a Science Exploration

Blog, She Wrote: Comparing the Accuracy of Liquid Measurement Tools

The data chart for recording volume was designed by each student separately based on what we needed to write down. Here are a few things to remember about data charts and recording data.

  • Have each student design her own based on ability- parents can step in when columns are missing.
  • Give hints or general categories students need to remember when constructing their own chart. It’s ok if the charts turn out differently from others as long as they record everything.
  • Creating their own data chart is a great way to learn the skill of organizing information. I think we underestimate the importance of our homeschooled students being able to organize information on their own- without the help of a printable!
  • Remember printables are fun, but they aren’t necessary and sometimes they slow you down– like when you are spending all your time looking for ones you’ve already printed or when you can’t find just the perfect one.
  • Scientists in the field must create their own data charts since they often design their own experiments. Step boldly!

Our Findings- How Accurate are the Volumetric Tools?

Blog, She Wrote: Comparing the Accuracy of Liquid Measurement Tools

What were the results?

  • All volumetric containers are not the same!
  • The graduated cylinder has more markings and measures more accurately – it was certainly easier to determine an accurate volume with more gradations.
  • The readings on the graduated cylinder were higher than the same volume measurement in the other tools.
  • The larger the container, the larger the discrepancy. The largest beaker was off my 20 mL or more!

What does it all mean? Well, it means if you want accurate volume without using a volumetric flask, use the graduated cylinder for the best results. Always use the container that will reasonably hold your liquids. If you use the extreme opposite, your readings will be less accurate.

Does My Homeschool Need Volumetric Measuring Tools?

Some of you might be asking whether or not it’s a good idea to invest in some volumetric containers for your homeschool. Is it a good idea? Here are a few things to think on:

  • Using containers meant for science frees up your kitchen tools– I prefer to use science tools for science and kitchen tools for the kitchen. That might be the science teacher talking, but it’s more than that!
  • Some chemicals don’t belong in vessels we eat from– Perhaps your wet labs aren’t dangerous, but some of them might be.
  • Using science tools reinforces safety measures– We don’t eat in the lab! Nor should we really eat from vessels used in the lab.
  • Ensures your students know how to measure volume accurately using appropriate tools
  • Your students will be versed in labware and how to use it
  • It helps our science to be more accurate– rather than guessing at volume when your liquid falls somewhere between 50 mL marks!

It’s easy to start out with a few beakers and graduated cylinders. We have a mixture of plastic and glass, but plastic lets me relax a little more. I would recommend a 100 mL graduated cylinder, 250 & 500 mL beakers at a minimum to start. If you work in small volumes, a 10 mL graduated cylinder is a good size.

Even the simplest of labs can introduce a great deal of concepts and provide plenty of practice at homeschool science. It’s important to use scientific volumetric tools as much as possible. Your measurements will be more accurate!

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Benefits of Using LEGO Mindstorms in Your Homeschool

Blog, She Wrote: Benefits of Using LEGO Mindstorms in Your Homeschool

Welcome to blog sponsor Explorental!

Have you ever considered a LEGO Mindstorms kit for your kids? Maybe you’ve seen them, but are unsure whether the investment is a good one for your family. For less than the cost of a popular game console system, you can have a tool for teaching endless concepts and a source of engineering challenge for your kids.

Reasons to Use LEGO Mindstorms in Your Homeschool

Working with the Mindstorms kit requires a lot of different skills from students even when you are just starting out. Take a look at some of the subject areas accessed by work with the Mindstorms.

  • Math– Although not always a student favorite, math is applied to the robot building when it comes to programming it. Geometry, particularly circle geometry is necessary to accurately get the robot to rotate the wheels the requested distance.
  • Robotics– Who doesn’t want to build a robot and take over the world? Or at least the LEGO world!
  • Mechanics– Part of the robot building has to do with putting the robot together with the technic pieces. How those fit together and work efficiently is a big part of the task.
  • Physics– Along with efficiency, you need a stable structure. We spend a lot of time learning about which designs are the most stable.
  • Fun– There is no shortage of fun when it comes to exploring with a LEGO Mindstorms kit.

Blog, She Wrote: Benefits of Using LEGO Mindstorms in Your Homeschool

Using Technology in Your Homeschool

Our kids use a lot of technology in our home- whether it’s a Kindle eReader, tablet or computers for programming and playing. One thing we really try to keep in check is how much our children are producers vs consumers when using technology. In other words, are they watching a lot and engaging in passive participation or are they being makers and creators?

LEGO Mindstorms uses software that is drag and drop so you only need to know some basics about how to get the robot to follow your commands. It takes time to master, but it’s worth the end result. I don’t mind my kids toiling for a few hours at a computer if they are actively problem solving. 

Enjoy a look at Ethan (and our basement!), our 15yo 10th grader, explaining one task he and his fellow FIRST LEGO League team members completed for their FLL regional competition in December. Our teams spend 7 hours a week pouring into this particular piece of technology and it earned them Grand Champion at their qualifying tournament.

Teaching with Technology G+ Hangout

Last week the iHN hosted an informative G+ Hangout on Teaching with Technology. I was excited to be one of the participants. Click and view at your leisure to hear how others are using technology in their homes.

Using Explorental to Experience LEGO Mindstorms

LEGO Mindstorms is a wonderful resource for homeschools, but it may not be the right time financially to invest in your own. How do you get a chance to work with the kit without making that big financial investment?

Take advantage of Explorental’s wonderful inventory of technology gadgets and other kits. They offer a LEGO Mindstorms rental for $43.99 for two weeks.

Blog, She Wrote: Explorental

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