SERIES PREMIERE: BIOLOGY

 

We’re launching a new series on Socratica! Today we released our first video about Biology. 

We’re starting with that most important molecule, DNA.  DNA provides all the instructions an organism needs to develop, survive, and reproduce.

Before you can really appreciate how DNA works to do all these vital tasks, you must understand the structure of DNA. That’s why we’re starting with this video!

We had a secret weapon for making this video. We knew we wanted to build a model of DNA, but we didn’t want to just buy a kit that snaps together. Honestly – that’s just too easy. It’s all too easy to snap the pieces together without really digesting what you just built.

Our special tool?  A 3D Printing Pen!

MorphPen was kind enough to send a 3D printing pen to Socratica for us to try.  It’s like nothing else we’ve ever tried before. Sort of like an incredibly pliant, quick-drying clay that goes right where you want it to. We can make 3D sculptures! 

giphy

We’ve always known how vital it is to draw something, if you want to really understand its shape. Think of all those maps you drew as a child.

But to be able to draw in 3D is a game-changer!

If you’d like to #trymorphpen yourself, here’s a link:

Thanks for checking out our new series! Let us know in the comments what you think! 

KHH

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Periodic Table App on Google Play
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SERIES PREMIERE: CALCULUS

Socratica has just started a new math series on Calculus.

Our first episode is an overview, called  What is Calculus :

This series stars our co-founder, Michael Lee Harrison.  Michael is a mathematician, who has a lot of valuable experience under his belt.  He got his BS in math at Caltech, and continued his studies at UC Berkeley and University of Washington . He holds an MS in math from UW and is ABD on his PhD…we’ll see if we can round up some more abbreviations for our next profile!

Michael taught math at the college level for several years, where he was a good-humoured and encouraging instructor.  He next went into finance, working as a “quant” (quantitative analyst).  He then worked at Google as a developer for five years before leaving to start Socratica.

You’ve seen Michael’s work on Socratica for years now, but this is the VERY FIRST TIME he has stepped in front of the camera.  More to come soon!

KHH

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SERIES PREMIERE – Study Tips – How to be a Great Student – Cornell Notes

This is the FIRST EPISODE of our new series on How to Be a Great Student! In this episode, we learn about the CORNELL METHOD.

 

This is a great method for taking notes in class (or from your textbook, or watching a video). There’s no way to remember every word of a lecture. But taking great lecture notes is the first step to getting good grades and being a great student.

The most important rule is don’t write down every word. Listen carefully, then write simplified and abbreviated phrases that capture the main ideas.

When you get home, RE-READ your notes! Proofread them, making corrections as needed before you forget. Check your notes with a friend! In the margin, write brief headers that will cue your memory of each section of your notes.

Finally, write a summary at the bottom of the page so you can quickly tell what this page of notes is all about.

Do you have a different method of taking notes? Let us know what are your favourite study tips in the comments!

KHH

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Related:

Are you curious about how we filmed these videos?  Check out our episode of Socratica Backstage about this video shoot:  Socratica Backstage: Overhead Mirrored Shots

Watch the trailer for our Study Tips: How to Be a Great Student series

 

Socratica Backstage: Behind the Scenes look at Mirrored Overhead Shots

We’re launching a new series on Socratica called “Study Tips: How to Be a Great Student.” An essential part of the videos in this series will be overhead B Roll and Insert Shots, to demonstrate things like how to take notes, how to use flashcards, etc.

overhead camera rig

Where do you put this thing when you’re not using it?

Many people use a large frame and suspend a camera overhead in order to do overhead shots. It’s one thing if you’re using a GoPro, but this isn’t something you really want to do with a larger camera with a nice lens. Other drawbacks include the amount of space an overhead frame takes up, and the fact that the camera is not easily accessible. You can’t zoom in during a shot unless you have a sophisticated remote control setup. You can’t easily move the camera from its fixed position, which limits the kind of filmmaking you can do (no pans, tilts, or slider shots).

Today on Socratica Backstage, you can watch how we mounted a large mirror in order to do better overhead shots. We immediately put it to use, filming B Roll and Insert shots for our first video in the Study Tips series, “How to Take Great Notes.”

 

We release our Backstage Videos early to our Patreon Supporters.  Thank you for being our super-fans!  Your support means so much to us.

If you are not yet a supporter of Socratica, please visit our Patreon Page and consider joining our team. You’ll be supporting our efforts to make more high-quality educational videos. Thank you!
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KHH

 

 

Our Fab Music Videos with Kat McDowell

You hear a lot of advice as a small YouTube channel.  Make more videos!  Tweet every day!  Shareability!  Longer videos!  Likes! Annotations!  Ask them to Subscribe!

But the big piece of advice we never took was: COLLABORATE. 

rising tide lifts all ships

A rising tide lifts all ships, the saying goes, and the idea is that if your channel can help out another, you should do it.  And don’t worry about contacting a channel with more subscribers than you – you could be bringing in a brand-new audience to the bigger channel.  Everyone wins.

It’s easier said than done, of course.  We’ve tried to pull of collaborations before, but something always got in the way:  schedule conflicts, too big of a difference in style, lack of funds.

But this year, with the help of the YouTube NextUp program, we finally did it.  We made two videos with our friend Kat McDowell – one for her channel, and one for ours!

This time, everything went right, the stars aligned, and the fates smiled on us.  We met Kat at an event at YouTube Space LA, and we recognized her from one of our favourite music videos – her cover of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” She’s a singer-songwriter from Japan and New Zealand, who makes “positive surf-pop” that will bring a smile to your face.

We knew we wanted to collaborate with Kat, but it was just a matter of finding a time and place to make it happen. Amazingly, we were both selected to take part in the YouTube NextUp program!  This meant we were in the same place at the same time for an entire week, with beautiful filming studios and tons of equipment at our disposal.

SUCCESS!

We hope you enjoy the videos as much as we enjoyed making them.

Here’s the video about Musical Harmony we made for our channel:

 

And here’s the music video “Human” we made for Kat’s channel:

 

 

Remember to tell your friends about Socratica Studios, and encourage them to try our videos and subscribe!

KHH

Subscribe to Socratica Studios

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Don’t forget to check out Kat McDowell’s channel  for more beautiful music! 

 

 

Related Post:

Game Changer: YouTube NextUp

Our YouTube NextUp Classmates

 

For COSMOS lovers: What are neutron stars?

All of us at Socratica grew up watching Carl Sagan and his groundbreaking series Cosmos.  Most people think of it as a series on astronomy, but it was really more about our place in the universe as thinking, exploring creatures looking to understand who we are and how did we get here.

When I taught biology, I regularly showed Sagan’s episode about evolution as an introduction to the topic. My students would laugh about his pronunciation of “yooman” and his odd speech patterns with unexpected….PAUSES. But by the end of the episode, they were completely won over and wanted to see more of this fascinating man.

Sagan and his tree

This line always got a big laugh.

Carl Sagan’s enthusiasm and broad knowledge of so many subjects made us want to learn almost everything from him. The work we do at Socratica is maybe best considered an homage to great teachers like Sagan.  There’s no way we could ever capture his special sauce – but we do get inspiration from his candor, his love for teaching, and his quest to know.

We’re over the moon to start a new playlist on Astronomy. Our first video:  What are Neutron Stars?

 

Over the moon, see what I did there? I crack myself up sometimes.

 

We recommend, obviously:

 

Cosmos DVDs

Cosmos: Carl Sagan
This is the 13-hour set of DVDs – one of the best programs in television history.

 

 

Cosmosbookcover

Cosmos

And this is the companion book with a new foreward by Neil DeGrasse Tyson.

 

KHH

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Video

A is for Alphabet Videos

My darling mum taught me how to read when I was really little (2 – 2 1/2 or so) by reading out loud to me. She read kids’ books to me, but she also read her Reader’s Digest and mystery novels and eventually, just by following along, I picked it up.  But most kids learn in school in the more traditional way, first by learning the alphabet, and then sounding out words with phonics and recognizing words by sight.  Learning how to read and loving reading has had the most profound effect on my life.  For someone who loves to read, it feels like my solemn duty to pass on what I know.

But learning, even learning something Very Important, doesn’t have to be solemn and serious. I have had so much fun making my “little learning movies” with Socratica, and I hope that comes across in our videos. The latest videos I’ve been making are about the alphabet, one for each letter.  We filmed these with our old friend Louise McCartney, star of many of our early videos.  Actually, Louise was in the very first video I wrote and put up on YouTube, “Anion.”  Louise is herself now a teacher in Texas. One of these days I’ve got to write a bio about her, because she has done such a wonderful job bringing the words on the page to life.  Louise also has that joy of learning, and I think you can tell she’s going to be a great teacher.

Louise plays “The Letter Lady,” who teaches kids what sounds the letters make, and how to write them, and helps you pick them out from other letters that look similar.  I don’t care, I’ll say it myself, the videos are simply beautiful. Just because we’re making these videos for little kids, that doesn’t mean we’re cutting corners. We are lucky to work with truly adept and accomplished graphic designers and editors who use their artistic eye to make something we like to watch.  After all, if I don’t enjoy watching my video, why would I expect a new learner to want to watch it over and over?

We just finished the Letter I, and every few days we publish another letter.  Please subscribe and share these videos with young friends who need to learn their letters of the alphabet as the first step towards a lifetime of reading.  We know how important it is. Let’s make it easy and fun for them!

KHH

The same person inside.

Lifelong learning means learning for everyone – not just learning for people under 18, or under 22.  When I was a grad student at Princeton, some of the local Princeton Township elders used to sit in on the classes I was teaching, and my undergraduate students used to grumble good-naturedly about the oldsters taking all the good seats up front.  But inherent in their ribbing was the idea that they didn’t quite believe that someone in their 60s, 70s, or 80s could really benefit from learning something about molecular and cell biology, or immunology, or biochemistry.  What are they doing here! their sidelong glances all seemed to say.

We want our work at Socratica to truly be for everyone – not just the small segment of the population in their full flush of youth.  Socratica is for everyone who wants to learn, and that means everyone.

My sweet mum used to tell me (when she was in her 50s, 60s, and 70s), “I still feel like I’m 18.  I still feel like exactly the same person.”  But then she would remember that she used to catch herself looking at her own elderly mum, and find herself wondering “What is she thinking? What can she be feeling? Does she still have dreams?”  Her own mother seemed hidden behind the mask of old age, even though my mum knew my grandmother must still be the same person inside, just like she was.

How many times are elders dismissed as being “the other” and not having the same powers of thought and sensitivity as younger people?  It’s particularly a problem in the United States, I think. We are so in love with youth that we forget that most people are not young.  But if we can’t get over this prejudice that makes us think that only the young deserve our respect and attention, maybe we can start to remedy the inequity by reminding ourselves that we never lose that young person we were once.  We are still that person inside, no matter what happens to our hair and our skin.

There’s a stunning series of photos by Tom Hussey, called Reflections, that illustrates just what I’m thinking.

rl05rl01  rl06rl02rl09

More beautiful images on Tom Hussey’s webpage

KHH