Two Central teachers to create educational Earth science videos

Nathan Yuan, News Editor

Chemistry and Earth science teachers Linda Bennett and Megan Hopkins will create a series of 10-12 instructional animated videos to engage students in Earth science. The animated videos will be funded by a $2,500 Naperville Education Foundation (NEF) grant.

“We don’t get 100 students a semester that live and die by Earth science,” Bennett said. “And to be fair, they have other things. So we thought, wouldn’t it be cool instead of showing these hour long documentaries, if we could create these YouTube or TikTok style videos that really got to the heart of what we wanted and were more student-friendly.”

The idea to make instructional videos came after Hopkins’ husband sent her a TikTok video about the history of the world in three minutes.

“It was perfect,” Bennett said. “We wanted to use it because many students are not as interested in a 50 minute history of the world, but they’d love TikTok videos. Sadly, there was a swear word in it and inappropriate to show.”

Bennet and Hopkins then searched for similar videos on Earth science.

“How hard can it be to find them for our Earth science curriculum? Shockingly, hard,” Bennett said. “There were lots for middle school, and there were lots for college, but the ones that targeted what we’re doing in class didn’t really exist.”

Short, engaging videos help keep students interested in class topics, Bennett said.

Bennett and Hopkins will begin meeting in early May to start outlining their first five videos, all of which will be produced over the summer. 

“Then in the fall, we’d like to be able to take those first five, show them [to] students [and] start promoting it through the school, saying ‘who’s on board to do some illustrations’ and then put those into production in the spring,” Bennett said.

Video topics will include the star cycle, Big Bang, minerals, volcanoes, earthquakes and mountain building.

To maximize the grant, Bennett and Hopkins will write the script, make the storyboard and find students interested in doing artwork for the videos. The grant will fund professional animators to create the videos.

“All we really need the money for is the animation,” Bennett said.

The instructional videos not only meet students at their knowledge level, but improve equity in that everyone can access and reach them at their own pace, NEF Trustee Steve Schnack said.

“We’ve found that to be really compelling,” Schnack said. “What a great way to reach a lot of students. What my committee in particular found really exciting about this grant idea is that this could be the start of a whole library of videos that could become student created.”