It seems that geek really is chic right now! Cult US sitcom Big Bang Theory picked up three accolades – more than any other programme – at the Critics' Choice TV Awards in Los Angeles recently. Not only was the show named best comedy series, stars Simon Helberg and Kaley Cuoco scooped awards for best supporting actor and actress respectively for their roles as Howard and Penny.
And, of course, science on the small screen isn’t confined to comedy shows. There are thousands of hours-worth of scientific entertainment material on television and online, plus a plethora of special resources for teachers and a host of other educational material, as well as programmes, websites and social media pages aimed at helping us understand and marvel at the world around us.
Inevitably, it’s difficult to provide a definitive list of the best material, because new items are constantly coming along. However, here are some resources guaranteed to provide high-quality material that will help you understand, teach or simply enjoy the wonders of science.
Bang Goes the Theory is a British TV magazine programme for kids, created by the BBC. Here’s a page packed with fun experiments you can try at home. There’s everything from building a simple ‘spud’ (potato) gun or canister rocket to setting steel wool alight using a 9V battery or creating a bouncy ball out of an egg. Why not give it a go? The programme also has teacher’s packs available, aimed at those teaching 11-to-18-year-olds, with resources ranging from evolution to astronomy.
Here’s a classic clip from the programme in which the presenters demonstrate just how much energy’s required to power a modern home. We take electricity at the flick of a switch for granted, but see what happens when the programme tries to supply a family’s electricity needs for an entire day solely through human pedal power. Watch the massive team of riders sweat as they struggle to keep up when the electric shower is turned on!
Naturally, here at 3B Scientific, we have our own range of science experiments for professional educators and we’re continually expanding the scope of experiments offered to encompass key concepts in Mechanics, Thermodynamics, Electromagnetism, Optics and Atomic and Nuclear Physics. Each experiment guide contains an explanation of the scientific principles presented, complete with graphs and images, as well as example measurements and calculations.
The classic series, Wonders of the Solar System established Brian Cox as a television star in the UK. The one-time keyboard player in the band 1990s D:Ream (they had a UK number one hit with Things Can Only Get Better in 1993) visited some of the most stunning locations on Earth to describe how the laws of nature have carved natural wonders across the Solar System. In this stunning footage, Professor Cox experiences the Solar Eclipse In Varanasi.
Speaking of the wonders of the solar system, the NASA website is always well worth a visit for its spectacular images, information about space flight and educational resources. Click for the image of the day and teaching materials.
Finally, let’s not forget the Discovery Channel and the Science Channel, but we’ll finish with a fascinating episode from the venerable UK pop-science programme Horizon. In this programme, we find out what cats get up to when they venture out through the cat-flap. Scientists and programme makers put 50 cats under 24-hour-a-day surveillance in a village just outside London, and discovered some rather interesting results….