Well, I’m coming up on 10 days on my new job at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences working on science communications for our new wing, the Nature Research Center. Beyond my creative and uniformly brilliant co-workers, I’m blown away by how many remarkable people I’ve met from around the state and world by just being at the Museum.
Among those were the filmmakers from the visual science education operation, Untamed Science. Co-founders Rob Nelson and Jonas Stenstrom. I learned that I was very fortunate to get an audience with Jonas as he was visiting from Sweden where he coordinates the team’s international science education efforts. He first met Rob, a native Texan & Coloradan, while both were studying in Australia. Joining them was their local documentarian partner, the talented Michelle Lotker.
Untamed Science describe themselves as “a group of scientists and filmmakers that have united with one simple goal – communicate science in a fun way to the next generation.” Their portfolio of free video and text content covers the spectrum of biology, physics, chemistry, earth science and technology.
Their target audience began as middle-school students but many of the details are those that parents (yes, me) might not know. I had a fabulous time sitting with our nine-year-old daughter last night to go through about a dozen of their videos and podcasts. Bedtime was delayed significantly – thanks, folks.
But rather than write text for y’all, here’s a 1:45 video where Rob and Jonas explain what their diverse team does:
(sorry, I couldn’t embed it)
An here’s more from their About page.
The Untamed Science gang take apart special topics in video shorts to pieces around seven to nine minutes that are designed to stand alone or are part of a learning module with text for teachers to use. Some of these are produced as part of educational partnerships such as one with Pearson Publishing for high school biology classes – here’s a great example on cone snail toxins.
Each of the team members are multitalented in visually-exciting sports such as spelunking and SCUBA diving. These skills are incorporated into the learning – such as hang-gliding to illustrate atmosphere and air currents. And it’s not lost on me that every segment shows the team members out and about doing something physical, not just extreme things – a great example for our video game-immobilized generation.
The reason I’m bringing this to the attention of C&EN readers is because of their “The Chemistry Calendar: Chemistry Is All Around Us” series developed for the International Year of Chemistry in collaboration with several entities in Sweden including Universeum in Gothenburg. Jonas and his girlfriend, physical chemist Louise Fornander, are the on-screen personalities who cover topics such as the chemistry of love, food, and antibiotics (where Jonas is treated for Lyme disease).
In showing Sweden’s largest industry and lignin chemistry of different types of paper products, Louise and Jonas sport some the bright orange protective gear coveted by this longtime owner of a Husqvarna 51 chainsaw. Louise and Jonas even do us the favor of drinking deuterated water to show us how their caloric expenditure varies between slothful lounging and vigorous exercise.
And as a student of the history of science, I particularly enjoyed their December piece on the history of chemistry and the story of Alfred Nobel.
So I encourage readers, not just chemistry educators, to take a spin around the Untamed Science site and share some of the information with your kids and their science teachers. Fun, free, and scientifically accurate – you can’t beat that.
And for those of you attending the ScienceOnline2012 unconference here in Raleigh next week, Rob Nelson will be here to present a session on science filmmaking with two friends of the blog, Carin Bondar and Joanne Manaster, co-authors of the PsiVid blog at Scientific American.
Enjoy and learn!
Disclosure: Untamed Science purchased lunch for me at Sitti, the authentic Lebanese restaurant in downtown Raleigh, NC. I had the Chicken Artichoke entree. Total noms.
Disclosure: The previous disclosure provided a link to Sitti, the authentic Lebanese restaurant in downtown Raleigh, NC. No food or drink was provided by Sitti in return for this linkage.
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