5 YouTube Channels for a STEM-ful Summer

a woman looks for videos on YouTube on a laptop

One of the greatest pressures of homeschooling is the weight of responsibility moms feel. They sense the need to check all of the boxes and cover all of the important topics. Even if the idea of exploring interests with less structure sounds appealing, it may be nerve-wracking to let go of the formal curriculum.

However, if you take a break from school during the summer months, this can be the perfect time to experiment with a less formal approach to learning. First, start with a good YouTube video. Then, follow the rabbit trails of curiosity and interest that spring up.

Here are a few of our favorite YouTube Channels that dig into science, technology, math, logic, and reasoning in an engaging and informative way. (Note: For the most part, these videos speak from an evolutionary worldview. If this contrasts with your own perspective, you may wish to preview the videos and/or be prepared to dialogue about the ideas.)

1. It’s OK to Be Smart

Dr. Joe Hanson of It’s OK to Be Smart loves to answer questions about things that make us wonder. This channel is sponsored by PBS and the visual presentation is stunning. You might like to learn about how igloos keep people warm, or whether physics presents any problems to the idea of shrinking people that you see in movies. Or maybe you're interested in how it is that woodpeckers can bang on trees without getting a headache. This series covers a variety of subjects, such as biology, space, and animals. This allows you to peruse the ideas that interest you most.

2. Jared Owen

Another thing my children have enjoyed is learning more about how everyday objects really work. While books can be a good resource, a well-done computer animation can really bring mechanics to life. We discovered Jared Owen’s channel. Ever want to see inside a lock, a click pen, or a piano? Jared’s explanations are clear and easy to understand, and the visuals are beautiful.

3. Physics Girl

5 YouTube Channels for a STEM-ful SummerHey now—science isn’t just for boys. Physics Girl loves to answer viewer questions about why the world works the way it does. Have you ever wondered about the cool way a Tic-Tac bounces, why mirrors seem to flip things horizontally, or if breaking a wine glass with your voice is really a thing? Well, then Physics Girl is your new best friend.

4. TED-Ed

You may have heard of TED Talks. TED-Ed is an extension of this program committed to providing great learning opportunities through animation. Some of their best material is in a series of related ideas. This includes their collection of brain-teasing riddles, a look at the science of superpowers, and over 150 videos about the body, its functions and diseases. You can also access extension activities to go along with their videos at TEDEd.com.

5. Math Antics

If you want a visual (and often funny) look at math concepts, you’ll love Math Antics. They do a great job of taking those often-confusing topics and illustrating them in ways that help kids understand the why behind the formula or algorithm. We love the ones about perimeter, place value, simplifying fractions, and many more. They also have further resources at MathAntics.com. Much of their material is subscriber-only, but there are free activities available as well.

It’s amazing to see the way kids enthusiastically engage with even complex ideas when the pressure is off. Real learning can take place without the need for formal assessment or curriculum. YouTube videos offer kids the opportunity to research new topics simply for the joy of satisfying their curiosity.

See BookShark's hands-on and literature-based Science programs.

About the Author

Lynna Sutherland • Homeschooling without Training WheelsLynna is a former homeschooler, then classroom teacher, now homeschool mom of eight crazy (and lovable) hooligans from middle school down to bouncing baby.

She calls her blog Homeschooling without Training Wheels because she loves to encourage families to embrace the freedom and flexibility that come with homeschooling and let go of the things that are holding them back! You can read more in her free eBook 5 Myths that are Killing Your Multi-Age Homeschool