EP 168: Creating a Popular Kids Show with Blippi TV

The character Blippi began in 2014 as the brainchild of Stevin John, who would later go on to play the character himself. He wanted to make early learning more than just dull memorization and repetition and instead associate it with “positive emotions and memories.” And since then, countless young children have been learning shapes, letters, numbers, and colors through Stevin’s show, which features him clad in orange and blue as the lovable Blippi.

The videos consist of nursery rhymes and educational songs complete with colorful characters and animations to hold children’s attention — things such as construction vehicles, animals, and more.  This is all blended with real life footage of Stevin as Blippi.

But Stevin wasn’t always set on being a YouTuber for kids. Before starting his channel, he followed a few different career paths, ranging from washing dishes to serving in the Air Force. But in the end, he found his calling as Blippi, where he can encourage kids to learn and grow through songs and videos.

Originally, Blippi was a solo project, but creating the show and its accompanying merchandise (shirts, books, dolls, and more) now takes a team of managers, cameramen, and animators. The team is also working on a live show along with episodes available on Amazon.

With 1.9 million subscribers and a cumulative 1.6 billion views on his videos, Stevin has amassed a loyal following of fans in nearly 140 countries. The show is also available in Spanish and German, with corresponding YouTube channels for each.

To learn more about Blippi, visit his channel at www.youtube.com/user/BlippiVideos/featured or his website at www.blippi.com. To listen to the full interview with Stevin, check out the podcast below.


EP 167: Physics Girl on How to Make Impactful Science Content

The popular YouTube channel Physics Girl began as a fun personal project for Dianna Cowern, who simply wanted to spread her love of physics after college. But it quickly grew into much more — today, it has close to a million followers as a channel that advocates for women in STEM and serves as a resource for teachers and students alike.

Dianna has done research at MIT and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, looking into dark matter and low-metallicity stars, as well as worked for GE designing software apps. She now works at UCSD as a science outreach coordinator. Her channel is also sponsored by PBS Digital Studios.

The Physics Girl channel features demonstrations, interviews, research, and all things physics- and science-related. Her most popular videos have millions of views, focusing on topics such as how to make a cloud in your mouth or what causes certain optical illusions. But her videos can range in subject matter to pretty much anything, as long as she’s explaining the world through science and physics.

Dianna’s work revolves around more than just making videos — Dianna also wants to encourage more women to pursue careers in STEM. By representing female physicists on the Internet and to such a wide audience, she can begin to normalize the idea of girls entering these typically male-dominated fields.

To watch Dianna’s videos, view her channel at www.youtube.com/channel/UC7DdEm33SyaTDtWYGO2CwdA or check out her website at www.physicsgirl.org. To hear the full interview, listen to the podcast below.  


EP 166: Mother Goose Club - Making Learning Fun with Music, Colors, and Characters

Preschool is one of the most important time in a child’s learning development. Sockeye Media’s Mother Goose Club has reinvented the world of early learning by bringing characters to life through nursery rhymes and live action filming. The content is predominantly aimed at young children, with the goal being to develop reading skills and literacy from a young age.

The six characters that star in these videos and songs are Baa Baa Sheep, Eep the Mouse, Little Bo Peep, Jack B. Nimble, Mary Quite Contrary, and Teddy Bear. These characters “inspire viewers to interact with rhymes” through memorable lyrics, engaging plot lines, and choreographed dances. The videos foster a love of learning from the beginning, letting kids go on to be successful in primary and secondary school with a strong foundation in vocabulary and reading skills.

The Mother Goose Club YouTube channel now has over 4.7 million subscribers, with sister channel Mother Goose Club Playhouse at 3.1 million subscribers. The videos have amassed billions of views since the channel’s founding. The show is also available on Netflix and local PBS stations, boasting four Midsouth Emmy awards, 19 nominations, and 12 other industry awards.

The website has over 90 rhymes in videos and songs. It also provides resources for teachers and parents such as lyrics, coloring pages, activity plans, and other tips.

Building literacy from a young age is essential to educational success later in school. Sockeye Media and Mother Goose Club ensure just that.

To learn more about Mother Goose Club, check out their website at https://www.mothergooseclub.com/ or their channel at https://www.youtube.com/user/MotherGooseClub/featured. A few more key links are as follows:

Mother Goose Club Playhouse channel:  https://www.youtube.com/user/SockeyeMedia

Mother Goose Club Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/mothergooseclub/

App Store:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/mother-goose-club-rhymes/id1146875428?mt=8

Google Play:  https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.storytoys.mothergooseclub.free.android.googleplay&hl=en_US

Favorite Nursery Rhymes:  https://amzn.to/2HwYOlB

Hello, Hello, Alphabet Train:  https://amzn.to/2J306Sl

To hear the full interview with CEO Harry Jho and CCO Sona, listen to the podcast below.


EP 165: Math and Music Together Again with Numberock

It all began when Ben Hehn, an elementary school teacher, brought his guitar to school one day to sing a song about long division to his students. They were interested, both by the song and the animations that accompanied it. This became the founding spark for NUMBEROCK, a YouTube channel that specializes in animated math-themed songs for students in kindergarten through sixth grade.

The goal was to create catchy songs that students would remember and use both inside and outside of the classroom. Few children willingly discuss math equations for fun if they’re not forced to in class, but singing songs about them is an entirely different story. Ben had several parents tell him that their kids were singing his songs wherever they went, allowing them to absorb and process new math concepts while having fun.

His channel now has over 50,000 subscribers and over 80 videos, most of which focus on math concepts, but some of which veer into other areas, such as U.S. presidents or counting in different languages. Each video is a song complete with animated characters ranging from Australian alligators to cartoon kids. Every video typically comes with a lesson plan for teachers to utilize.

The videos all focus on specific math concepts, which are the primary focus of the songs. Sillier aspects are added in to keep students’ attention while still being informative and educational. Many of Ben’s videos are free, but his entire library of videos, lesson plans, and other materials can be accessed through a paid subscription.

To learn more about NUMBEROCK, visit Ben’s website at www.numberock.com or check out his channel at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCt9SZgFExNwWTH5T_JnyF-A. To hear the full interview, listen to the podcast below!


EP 164: Memorize Geographic and Math Facts Musically with Kids Learning Tube

In 2015, Kids Learning Tube was created, a YouTube channel that aims to “educate kids of all ages with original music and animation.” In the years since, it has grown to over 250,000 subscribers who regularly tune in to watch weekly videos about a wide variety of topics ranging from geography to the periodic table.

Today, there are almost 200 videos uploaded to the channel. Many of them focus on learning the geographic regions of specific countries, with the regions themselves singing and introducing each of them. For example, in a song about Sweden’s counties, one such county is given an animated face as it sings, “Norrbotten is my county name; in the north you’ll find me. Luleå’s my capital on the Gulf of Bothnia you see.” Each county introduces itself, and in the end, the counties come together for a jointly sung chorus. Such catchy tunes and clever animations keep kids engaged and eager to continue listening and learning.

Other videos focus on subjects such as learning anatomy, with different bones singing lyrics. Other memorable videos teach core concepts of physics, with detailed and technical songs about black holes and dwarf planets. For students interested in science topics, there is a suite of videos on concepts like the solar system and the Earth’s layers.

Memorizing facts and understanding concepts can be much easier for young students when said topics are presented in a format that makes it fun to engage with the content. This is exactly why Kids Learning Tube makes this type of content.

To learn more about Kids Learning Tube, visit their website at www.kidslearningtube.com or their channel at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7EFWpvc1wYuUwrtZ_BLi9A. To listen to the full interview with Matthew, check out the podcast below.


EP 163: English Tree TV - the Ultimate Learning Vehicle for ESL

English can be a notoriously difficult language to learn, especially for those who must learn English as a second language. But English Tree TV aims to combat this difficulty with animations, songs, and videos that teach basic English by encouraging students to engage with the videos.

The idea for English Tree TV was born as a result of its founder, Adam Williams-Walters, witnessing innumerable students struggle while learning the language at the public school in South Korea. After watching countless students struggle at the high school where Adam taught, he finally decided to build a solution. English Tree TV has since amassed over 185,000 subscribers in the past three years, with a cumulative 113,00,000 views on his more than 70 videos.

Adam also creates lesson plans, worksheets, games, presentations, flashcards, and other free resources that go hand in hand with the videos to help teachers and parents educate their students most effectively. The content is entirely free and available to anyone.

His videos are often nursery rhymes or creative songs that focus on different topics, including emotions, fruits, animals, numbers, colors, and other similar subjects that help kids learn the fundamentals of English. The repetitive nature of the lyrics along with the bright animations make each video memorable enough that the language lessons stick. For more advanced learners, some videos focus on full sentences and grammar.

To learn more about English Tree TV, visit the website at www.englishtreetv.com or the YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC4GaQ9fCH5IpAq1AImj7XuQ. To hear the full interview with Adam, check out the entire podcast below.


EP 162: Top Notch Early Education with Brain Candy TV

What happens when you combine math, dogs, and trucks? Brain Candy TV is what happens. This amazing YouTube channel is based entirely on learning math and science concepts by incorporating animations of vehicles and a cockapoo into early education to make it interesting and enjoyable for young kids.

The channel was founded by Michael Moore in 2014 with the goal to “jump-start your child’s education so they can grow up to be more confident and successful in school and in life.” Michael’s dog, Lizzy, is a staple in the show — 73% of videos feature her — to help preschool-aged children learn numbers, basic math, the alphabet, colors, and science topics. 3D graphics, comprehensible explanations, and music make potentially boring topics feel exciting. The channel now has over 130,000 subscribers and around sixty uploaded videos.

Michael Moore (the founder of Brain Candy TV, not the documentarian) left his work as a wedding photographer to dedicate his time to Brain Candy TV in order to leave an indelible mark on the world of education. He decided early on that his trusty cockapoo, Lizzy, would join him in his journey as a canine educator, so kids across the planet could watch and enjoy the videos all the more.

Michael plans to produce more videos involving science and nature and aims to create content in the near future for slightly older students. As he puts it, “as your child matures, so will our new content.”

To learn more about Michael and Brain Candy TV, visit http://www.braincandytv.ca/ or check out his channel at https://www.youtube.com/user/braincandytelevision/. To hear to the full interview with Michael, listen to the podcast below.


EP 161: Optimizing Schools with the Canvas Learning Management System

Rarely do we take the time to consider the invisible digital platforms that make schools run seamlessly — the technology allows students to stay on top of grades, classes, and homework. These Learning Management Systems have grown in quantity and quality as of late as schools and universities attempt to digitize everything. In this episode, we spoke with Hilary Scharton, VP of Product Strategy for K-12 at Instructure, to discuss their Canvas Learning Management System.

Canvas began when two graduate students looked at the LMS their institution was currently using and decided it was terrible — the company Instructure was subsequently born and the Canvas product developed and released with it.

Canvas aims to bring to life the ideal one-on-one, individualized learning experience that has proven to be the most successful for students. Through Canvas, teachers can give students personalized content, including tests and assignments, based on students’ past results. Whenever students receive a grade, teachers can decide what kinds of assignments and curriculum to provide students based on their grades. This can all be completed automatically by Canvas.

They want to centralize information and cut down the number of unused, unnecessary products that schools and districts purchase but never implement by providing everything on one central platform. This way, the product actually gets used instead of being left idle. Part of this includes their connections with content companies and textbooks, allowing students to access that content from Canvas. They can also communicate with teachers and see assignments and tests so that everything is based on Canvas, easy to access and easy to use.

Canvas today, seven years after its initial launch, now has over 3,000 users ranging from individual schools to entire states. In total, it serves millions of students and is continuing to grow. It’s adoptable, adaptable, and reliable.

To learn more about Canvas LMS and Instructure’s other products, Gauge and Arc, check out their website at https://www.canvaslms.com/ and listen to the full podcast interview below.


EP 160: Teaching Math the Right Way with Welch Labs

There are few resources in place for people to learn difficult and complex material, especially when it relates to mathematics and technical subjects. All too often, textbooks are dense and boring and avoid encouraging a deeper understanding of the subject to provide surface-level comprehension. But there’s more than just the “how” to do something — there’s the “why.” And that’s how Welch Labs was born.

A practicing engineer, Stephen Welch founded Welch Labs in 2014 by publishing YouTube videos about machine learning. The idea came about when he was having difficulty with a project on neural networks — he wanted to provide online resources so that others would not encounter similar struggles. He now creates online math content and videos for people in high school to graduate school.

His channel currently features three different series: Neural Networks Demystified, Imaginary Numbers are Real, and Learning to See. The latter focuses on artificial intelligence and computer science framed in ways that are understandable to a wide audience base. He is now publishing videos in a How to Science series, which covers topics ranging from music to more traditional mathematical concepts. The idea is to promote actual understanding of math, code, and similar concepts.

To see this in action, visit the Welch Labs channel at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UConVfxXodg78Tzh5nNu85Ew. To listen to the full interview with Stephen Welch, listen to the podcast below.


EP 159: 3Blue1Brown on How to Show the Natural Beauty of Mathematics

Math and art — two seemingly vastly different subjects. But despite the apparent opposition between the two, YouTuber Grant Sanderson has set out on an endeavor to combine them in his channel, 3blue1brown, named after the sectoral heterochromia that leaves his right eye ¾ blue and ¼ brown. His videos essentially animate math, providing visual depictions of the topics he covers using a Python library of his creation.

Grant studied math at Stanford University and later went on to produce content about multivariable calculus for Khan Academy. Eventually, his love for mathematics (and passion for teaching it to others) led him to create 3blue1brown, which has now amassed over 800,000 subscribers.

His videos vary in focus. Many discuss topics that are typically not covered in traditional math classes, such as topology, Bitcoin, higher dimensions, and more conceptual subjects (an example being a video entitled “What does it feel like to invent math?”). But he also has series that are oriented to students learning particular math topics, such as calculus and linear algebra.

Grant’s goal is to “bring life to math,” animating it in both a literal and figurative sense. Math can be difficult and hard to fully comprehend, but displaying it with visuals and graphics allows him to break through such a learning barrier and help viewers understand math as they should. By looking at problems through a different lens and in a new format, complex solutions don’t seem so daunting and instead become enjoyable.

To explore and subscribe to 3blue1brown videos, check out the channel at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCYO_jab_esuFRV4b17AJtAw.

To learn more about Grant and 3blue1brown, listen to the full interview below.