Weekly GeekMom Video Playlist


Ballads, brains, board games, and booze are on the menu this week on our weekly video playlist. As usual, the weekly playlist is brought to you in feature-film length as a gift to you for weekend viewing. Here is a sampling of videos from this week’s playlist.

A Halo medley on violin and piano was somehow not what I was expecting when I found this video, but the production value and musicianship are both excellent.

Continue reading Weekly GeekMom Video Playlist

YouTube is the New Substitute Teacher

Image Credit: NASA/Goddard

School, like most of everyday life, is at times boring and occasionally a waste of time. We can place blame for that squarely upon the education system and teachers, or share it with parents if we’d like to keep diplomacy in the PTA. But although it’s true that the adults who shape and deliver education as we know it are largely responsible for what we learn and how well we learn it while we are children, we have nobody but ourselves to blame for allowing ignorance to persist after we grow up.

No matter how dreadful your education experience was as a child, if you reached adulthood literate enough to use the internet, then you should find developing a passing acquaintance with basic science concepts both convenient and entertaining. The idea that learning should be fun and easy is so compelling that YouTube is positively swarming with video bloggers enthusiastically sharing knowledge.

Because I am a science enthusiast and a lifetime devotee of independent study, I’ve compiled a video playlist of some of my recent favorites in that genre. To eliminate some common misconceptions, the playlist opens with the definition of science. From there, it builds from some interesting basics about water and carbon, covers some of the science frequently botched by Hollywood and in other fiction, and demonstrates that girls plus math equals win. Then follows a musical interlude, but it’s all science, so it’s all good. The last few are a sampler of videos posted by universities and science publishers for viewers who prefer productions with bigger budgets.

Now all you have to do is watch and learn.


(This post originally appeared at the Science in My Fiction blog.)

Music Week: YouTube Geek: Every Week is Music Week!

One of my favorite things about YouTube is that every week is music week. Given the number of excellent original songs posted to YouTube each day, I could build a unique playlist every week without repeating any song twice. In fact, I’m going to do that. Starting now, with the following five songs:

‘A Frustrating Thing’ by singadingding115 is the first song of the week. Don’t worry! The song itself belies its troubling title, and the video is a lovely capture of the nostalgia that lingers after a summer day spent outside with a friend.  

‘A New Kind of Sexy’ is up next, and as the title implies, this love song is not for the kids. Don’t think for a minute that it’s a bad one, though. George Watsky’s latest song (feat. Intuition & Dumbfoundead) promotes self-respect and embracing a healthy body image.

DeStorm‘s ‘Punch Out’ is a video game-themed song that’s motivational, catchy, and perfect for work-out listening. In fact, it’s the sort of song you’ll catch me singing under my breath anytime I’ve gotta be a responsible grown-up in spite of myself. However, it includes a few swears, so parents should screen it before sharing it with kids.  

‘Adult Female’ by Hank Green (of the vlogbrothers) is a love song that I adore for two important reasons: It calls into question an uncomfortable element found in most other love songs, and like ‘A New Kind of Sexy’ above, it turns the love song genre on its ear to make it meaningful.

Finally, ‘Cupcake Count-Off’ by theDesignmachine is straight-up frosted adorableness for the whole family.

YouTube Geek: Say the Right Words

If you’ve spent much time on YouTube lately, you’ve probably heard about VidCon, the great big vlogbrothers-organized convention for the amusement and edification of YouTubers that happened in Los Angeles last weekend. By all accounts, it was a smashing success, a rocking good time, and caused jealousy in the hearts of vloggers everywhere who were unable to attend (myself included).

Fortunately, this was a convention by vloggers and for vloggers, so you know every minute of every event at VidCon was captured on video by someone. And thank goodness, or else the rest of us would have missed out on a real treat: A stirring performance by geeky rapper and spoken word artist George Watsky.

(Fair warning: Adult language and high levels of inspiration.)

Also for all the word-lovers out there, we have a video blog from OhItsJustKim, who only recently discovered savethewords.org, a website where all sorts of odd English words retire after they’ve been kicked out of the dictionary. My two favorites from the site are murklins (in the dark) and veprecose (prickly) – what are yours?

Continuing today’s fun education theme, the next video takes gives us a tour of an extraordinary museum exhibit featuring very various versions of the humble periodic table. Watching this gave me several great ideas for how to introduce my son to chemistry without the often intimidating classroom chart.

From there we move on to something relevant to geek culture in general, but especially to geek moms. We love our media and we love our families, but sometimes the former is a poor support for the latter. How often have we found ourselves halfway through an otherwise enjoyable sci-fi television series, only to be disappointed when the writers finally include motherhood in the script? Motherhood itself isn’t the problem. Rather, it’s the way pregnancy and birth and the events that follow tend to be abused for the sake of shock value. I don’t know about you, but at this point in my media-viewing career, I’d actually be more shocked to find a realistic mother character in a sci-fi TV show.

Finally, we arrive back where we started; at a convention. The following video was shot ahead of Otakon – an unrelated, yet simultaneous convention on the opposite side of the continent from VidCon. Not surprisingly, attendees of the anime fan-gathering are every bit as talented and geeky as the vloggers assembled a coast away. There’s probably a lot of overlap between those two sub-cultures, come to think of it…

(Fair warning: The featured song is ‘Raise Your Glass’ by P!nk, which includes a well-timed F-bomb part mid-way.)

YouTube Geek: Buck the Trends

If you’ve spent much time on YouTube, you may have noticed that the company maintains a blog devoted to viewer trends on the video site. That’s a handy link to follow if you’re interested in watching natural disasters and revolutions unfold around the world, but if you spend as much time on YouTube as I do, you might also have noticed that quite a lot of vloggers use the trends as something upon which to piggyback their own content. Whenever there’s a big earthquake, scores of people make earthquake videos. Right now, YouTube is flooded with performers singing covers of Amy Winehouse songs and fans posting video memorials.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with being trendy, but sometimes bucking the trends produces more interesting results and it definitely provides us more diverse video content to watch.

As usual, my YouTube watch list this week includes videos covering a range of subjects and popularity. At the top of my list is a video from the vlogbrothers addressing a surprising controversy already dear to Geek Mom hearts: Lawns versus Gardens.

Next up is Freddie Wong‘s “Big Blue Ball Machine,” which is really nothing more than a visual treat, but it is very much that.

Speaking of the odd mix of machines and ball games, here’s video of a pool-playing robot. I don’t know about you, but this looks to me like it has classroom potential. Who’s up for a game of practical geometry? Anyone?

In the next video, a young Australian musician shows us how to get the better of a boring power outage using only a ukulele and a smile.

Last but not least, give a listen to this mournful Harry Potter fan song, “Muggle Born.” Even if Harry Potter isn’t your fandom, the sentiment is pretty universal. Fair warning: This song has earworm potential.

Get Your Tongue Out Of Whack

Ever bored or need a break from screen time? Then it’s time to play with your tongue! That sounds gross, but bear with me: I’m talking about tongue twisters. Of course, when you give your tongue a twist, it’s your brain that gets a workout, but we don’t call them ‘brain twisters’ because that’s just not as much fun to say.

My favorite tongue twister is “Stupid superstition!” Not only does it convey a pro-science message, if you try to say it three times fast but fumble it, you end up spluttering something ironically truer: Super stupid-stition! It has layers of meaning, and it makes me laugh! How geeky is that?

Be fairly warned, though. Once you send your mind and mouth around the twist, there is no going back. Soon you’ll start collecting tongue twisters from around the world, and next you’ll find you’ve developed a linguistics hobby. Which is even geekier than causing yourself a fit of the giggles by sometimes slipping-up saying something surrounding slitted sheets. Just ask Hank Green of the Vlogbrothers; he is a slitted sheet savant.

Geek Candor: The Vlogbrothers Do It With Animals

Let’s talk about sex. Yes, again! That’s the thing about ‘the talk’ – you can’t have just one. Because this is a geeky blog, I did a little research into how other geeks have been talking about sex lately, and I discovered something very interesting. The Vlogbrothers do it with animals. Talk about sex, that is.

For the record, the Vlogbrothers are talented, geeky brothers whose shared video blog is chock full of science, music, and frequent examples of nerds being awesome.

Their recent posts about animal sex are embedded below, but before you watch (or run away, cringing), you should know that there’s a lot more to learn from this particular series of videos than the mating habits of giraffes and tortoises. For attentive ears, there’s a vocabulary lesson in there, somewhere. There’s also an unspoken opportunity to discuss the many purposes sex has in nature (reproductive organs aren’t just for reproduction, friends). But watch closely for the two most important take-away messages:

  • As interesting and useful as it can be, sex is probably not the most important thing we ever do.
  • And it’s okay to be awkward and juvenile when talking about it!

That said, due to images of animal sex and some crude humor, these videos may or may not be appropriate for younger children. Parents should, as always, screen before sharing. And parents, I strongly encourage you to watch them all to the end (if you’re able suppress your giggle reflex).