One of the challenges of teaching biology is that many of the topics that we cover occur at the molecular level and are difficult for students to visualize. YouTube has made teaching these topics so much easier. I frequently include videos into my lectures so that my students can see biology in action. My motto for teaching is “Life is Beautiful” (see this post). I can use videos to help inspire my students to see that for themselves. Here are a few videos that I have found useful for teaching cell biology:
I love the dramatic soundtrack on this video as an amoeba engulfs a paramecium. You can use this video to explain the process of phagocytosis. You can point out the formation of psuedopodia and talk about how the cytoskeleton is used to help the amoeba ooze across the screen. You can compare and contrast the movement of the paramecium which uses cilia instead.
When talking about osmosis it is always good to give lots of visual aids. This topic is really hard for students to grasp. This video demonstrates osmosis in action in paramecium cells. Because they live in a hypotonic enviroment, osmosis drives water into the cytoplasm. They collect the excess water in a specialized organelle called a contractile vacuole. Once full, it contracts, expelling water from the cell. It is really neat to watch. I like to show the video and then view the process live in the lab under the microscope
We recently began the unit on cellular reproduction in my summer course. I like to begin the unit with this video animation of the development of a baby from fertilization to birth. I use it to lead into a discussion of mitosis and meiosis and how the different processes play a role in human reproduction. I love how this video shows the union of gametes and then follows the sequence of cellular divisions that ultimately lead to the formation of a human child. It doesn’t have any captions or narration so you can add commentary as you wish. The only drawback is that the video quality isn’t great when you view it in full screen mode.
If a picture speaks a thousand words, how many more can a good video convey? What good biology related videos have you found? Do you have any favorites? Feel free to add them to the list in the comments section. These are just a few of the ones that I have come across. I will share more as I find them.