K S Lane is both a student of science and an avid watcher of YouTube, including all of the channels on this list.
YouTube Isn't Just for Dumb Viral Videos
When people think of YouTube, the first thing that comes to mind is cat videos. However, there’s a lot more to this worldwide video-streaming service than first meets the eye. YouTube is full of wonderful educational content. If you know where to look you can find a plethora of highly qualified, educational YouTubers and YouTube channels that cover fascinating topics ranging from science to art history.
This article lists five of the most popular, most interesting, and all-around best educational YouTube channels that the site has to offer. Whether you’re a student wanting to get some extra help on a specific class, a parent wanting to find engaging and fun educational videos for your child, or a retiree trying to broaden your mind, one of these channels is sure to be exactly what you’re looking for!
Subscribers: 8.3 Million
Presenters: Mitchell Moffit and Gregory Brown
AsapSCIENCE's videos are characterized by bright colors, cartoon-like drawings, and a wealth of sciencey goodness. Their videos, which range from "Are Good Looking People Jerks" (spoiler alert: not really) to "The Science of HIV/AIDS" (spoiler alert: scary stuff), don’t shy away from difficult or taboo topics like some educational channels do. This makes their content all the more interesting, but also probably not suitable for a younger audience. Aside from these fun and engaging videos, AsapSCIENCE also occasionally releases songs. Their Periodic Table song, which lists all of the elements in the periodic table to a catchy tune, has racked up over 18 million views and is perfect for anyone who needs help memorizing the elements.
4. CGP Grey
Subscribers: 3.6 Million
Presenter: CGP Grey
Covering topics ranging from "How Machines Learn" to "A Brief History of the Royal Family," one of the best things about CGP Grey is the breadth of his subjects. This channel is perfect for those who don’t have a particular subject that they want to learn more about in mind but would rather just increase their general knowledge and understanding of the world. The videos, which are generally 5-10 minutes long, explore one question or subject in an in-depth and entertaining way. Unlike many other channels, Grey also links his sources and places to find out more information in his video’s description, so you can rest assured that the information you’re receiving is accurate and reliable. If that isn’t enough for you, the host and namesake of the channel also has an incredibly soothing voice that’s relaxing to listen to. Bonus!
Subscribers: 5.3 Million
Presenters: Hank Green, Michael Aranda, and Olivia Gordon
SciShow churns out short and fascinating videos every single day, exploring topics in a range of fields of science including chemistry, biology, geology, and mathematics. The SciShow family also includes three off-shoot channels. SciShow Psych delves deeper into the science of psychology, SciShow Space explores astronomy, and SciShow Kids presents similar content to the main channel but does so in a simpler, kid-friendly way. Most videos are hosted by Hank Green, who is an engaging and oftentimes hilarious presenter with a background in science. The other two hosts, Michael Aranda and Olivia Gordon, are similarly qualified and interesting to listen to. While the hosts talk text reinforcing or elaborating on what they’re saying appears on the screen and helpful diagrams pop up, which is great for those who are more visual learners. SciShow’s content is family-friendly and can be enjoyed by people of all ages.
Subscribers: 6 Million
SmarterEveryDay is a channel that explores the world through science, predominantly physics. The almost 300 videos featured on the channel include gems like "Slow Motion Flipping Cat Physics" (yes, the host really does drop his cat) and "The Backwards Brain Bicycle" (which features people falling off bikes. A lot). The format of SmarterEveryDay’s videos is somewhat different from the other channels listed here, taking place outside in the real world rather than in a studio or with pictures and voiceovers. This not only makes the videos difficult to stop watching but also reminds viewers that science isn’t just about principles and diagrams and theories; it’s about real life too. The host of SmarterEveryDay, known to viewers only as Destin, is a full-blown rocket engineer, meaning that the content he provides is probably trustworthy.
Subscribers: 8.5 Million
Presenters: (Primarily) John and Hank Green
Unlike most of the other channels on this list, Crash Course isn’t limited to STEM videos. Courses that they’ve run include the basics like chemistry, biology, and physics, but also branch out into more niche topics like Theatre and Drama, Philosophy, Sociology, World History, and U.S Government and Politics. This wide range of topics means that there’s something to interest everyone. Brothers Hank and John Green, who are the primary presenters, are engaging, humorous, and charismatic. Some of the topics they cover are probably too advanced for a younger audience, but for teenagers and above the depth they go into is perfect, which is probably why Crash Course is played by teachers in classrooms across the world. A word of warning before you sink your teeth into these fantastic videos, though; Hank and John speak fast!
Broadly science related topics as well as a few songs here and there
Teens and up
A mixed bag of content, mainly science and history
Young teens and up
Every topic of science under the sun
All ages! (Note that there is an offshoot channel specifically designed for kids)
Smarter Every Day
Science- mostly related to physics
Young teens and up
Chemistry, Biology, Psychology, Mathematics, Philosophy, Literature, Art History, World History... the list goes on and on!
All ages, but content may be a bit difficult for children under 12/13
Those Are the Top Five!
And there we have it; five of the best educational YouTube channels out there. With so many different topics covered and presenters featured, there’s definitely something in these channels for everyone. And keep in mind that these five channels are by no means the end to the informative and educational content on YouTube. New channels are being created every day by passionate individuals who want to share their knowledge with you. While YouTube may be best known for cat videos, a little bit of digging under the surface uncovers a wealth of potential.
*all subscriber counts are correct as of November 2018
© 2018 K S Lane
Anya Ali from Rabwah, Pakistan on March 07, 2020:
Thank you for an informative post.
Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on November 23, 2018:
I had no ides that were actually categories for the various videos. This was a very informative article. Thnaks for all this new information.