EP 182: John Medina on Brain Rules for Happy and Healthy Children

Dr. John Medina has written many books such as the New York Times bestseller "Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School" -- a provocative book that takes on the way our schools and work environments are designed. Medina's book on brain development is a must-read for parents and early-childhood educators: "Brain Rules for Baby: How to Raise a Smart and Happy Child from Zero to Five." His latest book in the series is "Brain Rules for Aging Well: 10 Principles for Staying Vital, Happy, and Sharp." Other titles include The Genetic Inferno, The Clock of Ages, Depression, What You Need to Know About Alzheimer’s, The Outer Limits of Life, Uncovering the Mystery of AIDS, and Of Serotonin, Dopamine and Antipsychotic Medications. He also writes the "Molecules of the Mind" column for the Psychiatric Times and serves as an academic contributor and advisor to MindEDU, as well as article contributions to notable periodicals such as Harvard Business Review, New York Post, Business Week, and the Seattle Times.

Medina is a developmental molecular biologist focused on the genes involved in human brain development and the genetics of psychiatric disorders. He has spent most of his professional life as a private research consultant, working primarily in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries on research related to mental health. Medina served as the founding director of the Talaris Research Institute, a Seattle-based research center originally focused on how infants encode and process information at the cognitive, cellular, and molecular levels. Medina’s lifelong fascination with how the mind reacts to and organizes information—combined with being a father of two boys—sparked an interest in how the brain sciences might influence the way we teach our children.

His notable achievements include being appointed to the rank of affiliate scholar at the National Academy of Engineering in 2004, named Outstanding Faculty of the Year at the College of Engineering at the University of Washington; the Merrill Dow/Continuing Medical Education National Teacher of the Year; and, twice, the Bioengineering Student Association Teacher of the Year.

Medina is currently an affiliate Professor of Bioengineering at the University of Washington School of Medicine and in addition to his research, consulting, and teaching, Medina speaks often to public officials, business and medical professionals, school boards, and nonprofit leaders.



Articles & Blog Mentions


Youtube channel



EP 181: Raising Children to be Happy and Healthy at MindEDU

Richard Biegel, founder of MindEDU, did not set out to join the burgeoning EdTech revolution. Nevertheless, he found himself drawn to the dynamic and meaningful world of education. Having spent over 30 years in commercial real estate and development, including a number of large scale projects in the Southwest as well as previously raising two children (now adults), Richard had no idea that the second time around would lead him squarely in the midst of early childhood education and development.

A year ago, while beginning the search for preschools for his twin daughters, he noticed that the information he was coming across had not changed much from the previous 20 years. After reaching out to notable educators, Richard noticed a serious disconnect between the life-changing research that was available and how little of it was known to the general public. It became apparent that something needed to be done after asking himself questions such as, “How do I raise my kids to be healthy and happy?”

Richard set out to reach the parents of young children when their minds are the most moldable and absorbative. Paired with an impactful health scare, Richard’s passion and mission became evident in his work through gathering leading academic advisors and contributors in their fields in one place. And that’s how MindEDU was born. It came about from a desire to bridge the disconnect between all of the great information available and the fact that the info has not yet been disseminated or properly conveyed. The MindEDU website conveys a wealth of knowledge in ways that are easily digestible and accessible to today’s parents. As we continue to integrate our lives with technology, MindEDU aims to bring trustworthy information that parents and educators can utilize to build a healthy foundation for our children. We are so fortunate to be able to watch this wonderful resource unfold in this early stage.

EP 180: Alternate History with Monsieur Z

What if the Sino-Soviet Union formed? What if Iran became communist? What if Hitler died early? These are all questions answered by Monsieur Z, a YouTube channel that began producing alternate history videos in February of 2017. Run by Dean Moser, the channel now has nearly 40,000 subscribers who tune in every week to consider what the world would be like if history had gone an entirely different route.

The Monsieur Z assortment of playlists highlights the kinds of videos he creates: anarchism, communism, fascism, the ancient world, World War I, World War II, the Cold War, alternate Europe, alternate Asia, and alternate America. In each of these playlists, the videos focus on what the world would be like today if an alternate version of events had occurred.

Dean also has a playlist entitled “Videos YouTube Doesn’t Want You To See,” a collection of videos that YouTube has deemed as “non-advertiser friendly” content. YouTube often attempts to disincentivize content creators from producing certain content by not allowing ads to play on those videos. For Monsieur Z, these videos include “If the 2nd Amendment Didn’t Exist,” “What if JFK Survived?,” “What if National Bolshevism Replaced Communism?,” “United South America,” and more. Several also focus on what would have happened if various countries became communist or fascist instead of adopting the legal systems they have now.

His most popular alternate history videos analyze hypothetical scenarios such as Rome discovering steam power and World War I ending in stalemate. For example, in the latter video, Dean first explains what would have had to happen in order for a stalemate to occur in the first place — Germany would have had to re-establish trade with the United States in order to permit their submarine warfare. He then postulates other possible scenarios: the Central Powers taking Russia, further alliances dragging more nations into the war, continuous conflict on the French and German borders, and more. Eventually, an armistice would be signed and borders redrawn, resulting in a stronger Germany, a smaller Soviet Union, and even more consequences. He eventually reaches the conclusion that more fascist empires would have emerged in other European countries, leading to a Second World War regardless.

Monsieur Z videos are generally a voiceover of Dean speaking accompanied by still images and an occasional cartoon. He also uses maps and diagrams to further highlight his points. But overall, his goal is to analyze historical trends and events by looking at what could have happened — and why it didn’t.

To learn more about Monsieur Z, check out the full podcast below and visit his channel at https://www.youtube.com/user/josephmeza100000.


EP 179: Unique Insights on Historical Events with Step Back History

Tristan Johnson had always admired the work of successful scientists making a name for themselves in their respective fields — people like Bill Nye and Neil Degrasse Tyson who were easily identifiable as prominent scientists and produced content that people care about. And yet, the same could not be said for historians; naming even one prominent historian who produces interesting content is a challenge for many.

And so, he set out to change this. In September 2015, Tristan launched Step Back History, a YouTube channel that has amassed just over 40,000 subscribers in the time since its beginning. His goal was to help people realize the importance of history and how it can help us understand the modern world in a way that was different from the usual long lectures and dull descriptions. He wanted history to be engaging and exciting through his videos, and most importantly, connect the past to the present by looking at history from a new angle.

Tristan will often cover topics that are typically seen as rather boring and turn them into enlightening videos. For example, his most popular video, with nearly 200,000 views, is titled “The Truth About Native Americans before Europeans Arrived.” He goes into the history of Native Americans and the pre-Colombian world, his voiceover accompanied by animations, visuals, and drawings to keep viewers engaged. And most of his videos follow a similar format — clips of him talking interspersed with applicable visuals.

But Tristan also aims to move past the more well-known parts of history and delve into unconventional ideas that people often aren’t aware of. Some other popular videos like this cover topics ranging from random facts about Iceland to the Colfax Massacre to Zoroastrianism to the lost colony of Roanoke.

Many videos also center around current events, discussing things like the alt-right, Al-Qaeda, free speech, whether Trump is a Russian agent, balancing the Supreme Court, political correctness, a primer on Vladimir Putin, and legalizing marijuana. All in all, Tristan’s goal is to educate and entertain, both on things that have happened in the past and things that are still going on.

To learn more about Tristan and Step Back History, listen to the full interview with him below and check out his channel at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCxTdWpLJurbGlFMWOwXWG_A.


EP 178: SciShow - a Powerful Science Show for Kids

Science has a tendency to be viewed as complicated and erudite, a subject with so many different branches and intricacies that it can take years to study even one discipline. But that is often to do with how science taught, and it certainly doesn’t mean that non-scientists can’t learn about how the universe works — even kids are never too young to start learning about science when it’s explained in ways that they can understand. This is what inspired the launch of SciShow Kids, a YouTube channel that aims to provide scientific answers to common questions and topics “for young, curious minds.”

Hosted by Jessi and Squeaks, a robot rat, SciShow Kids releases videos every Tuesday and Thursday. They tackle seemingly perplexing topics and break them down into easily understandable explanations. The show often conducts experiments, hosts special guests, and highlights how science works in everyday settings such as kitchens and playgrounds.

With close to 200,000 subscribers, it’s safe to say that SciShow Kids has proven itself a successful endeavor and popular among kids everywhere by answering questions that kids ponder but never know the answer to. For example, recent uploads include “Why Does Ice Cream Hurt My Head?” and “Why Can’t I Eat Peanut Butter?” Many videos also focus on animals and other facts that especially kids, but even adults, find interesting.

The original SciShow channel was launched by Hank Green, known for his role as co-host of YouTube channel vlogbrothers alongside his brother and teen author John Green. SciShow publishes a new video every day, alternating hosts between Hank Green, Michael Aranda, Olivia Gordon, and Stefan Chin. This channel features information pertaining to every branch of science.

SciShow Kids is one of three branches of the original SciShow, which launched in 2012. Other variants include SciShow Space and SciShow Psych. The Space channel features videos about the universe and attempts to explain the mysteries of outer space in a way that makes sense to everyone, with content covering the beginning of the universe to modern developments in astronomy. SciShow Psych focuses on how the human brain works and the psychology behind decisions we make.

To learn more about SciShow Kids, listen to the full interview with the show’s producer, Sam Schultz, and check out the shows at the links below.

SciShow: https://www.youtube.com/scishow

SciShow Kids: https://www.youtube.com/user/scishowkids

SciShow Space: https://www.youtube.com/user/scishowspace

SciShow Psych: https://www.youtube.com/scishowpsych

EP 177: Chemistry Made Amazing with NileRed

Nigel Braun began posting his chemistry experiments to YouTube in 2014 under the name NileRed (after the lipophilic stain) with no intention of amassing such a large audience. But now, four years later, he has over 420,000 subscribers that tune in regularly to watch his latest experiment. The mission is to prove that science can be a topic as engaging and fascinating as any other — often even more so.

The channel currently features four playlists: extractions, odors, syntheses and demonstrations, and spontaneous combustion, although videos often don’t fall into those categories. The extractions playlist features videos on extracting certain substances from others; for example, extracting citric acid from lemons, caffeine from coffee, and starch from potatoes, as well as some slightly more offbeat extractions such as lidocaine from anal lubricant. The odors playlist is entirely about how to make certain odors like cadaverine and butyric acid, the smells of rotting flesh and vomit respectively. The combustions and syntheses playlists feature various chemical reactions and accompanying explanations.

Most of his videos have hundreds of thousands of views, but some have garnered well over a million. His most popular video to date, which shows how mercury and aluminum react to form a mercury alloy, has 7.4 million views. Other videos with more views include instructional videos on how to make chloroform and alcohol on your own, as well as other chemical reactions.

Nigel has also created a website and shop for his channel, where he has a blog that he shares information about his videos on. He finds materials such as glassware and chemicals from various sources and is careful to warn viewers that certain experiments should not be conducted without proper safety materials and safely procured chemicals.

To learn more about NileRed, listen to the full interview and check out the links below.

YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/user/TheRedNile

Website: https://nile.red

Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/user?u=2448989

Instagram: http://instagram.com/nile.red

Twitter: https://twitter.com/NileRed2

EP 176: Udemy - the Largest Learning Platform on the Planet

As technology evolves, so does the way we use it in our own development. Udemy is one such company that’s taken advantage of the widespread availability of the Internet and brought education online through a global marketplace. Udemy offers anyone the chance to learn “any topic, anytime” through their online platform. Starting at $10.99, there are approximately 80,000 courses currently available on Udemy, ranging in subjects from languages to IT to personal development.

Founded by Eren Bali in Turkey, Udemy’s mission was to make education accessible. Bali was motivated by his own lack of education until he acquired a computer and was able to find resources from around the planet. Today, the company is well on its way to making high-quality education a staple for everyone, with offices in California, Turkey, Ireland, and Brazil.

While traditional academic topics such as math and history are what’s most common on similar platforms, at Udemy, these core topics are only a small fraction of the vast amount available, covering a broad range. Many classes focus on personal and internal success, such as meditation, stress management, relationships, and mental health. Still others are about physical success, with courses in dieting, first aid, dance, and nutrition. Entire sections are dedicated to professional and career skills, such as business, software, marketing, and design, and even more to creative skills, such as music and photography. Any subject that comes to mind is most likely available on Udemy.

Instructors create a course with the help of a community of other Udemy teachers and Udemy’s training and resources, and they are paid each time someone purchases it. At this time, Udemy boasts over 35,000 instructors for 24 million students, each with unique courses that reach a far broader audience than they otherwise could have.

Udemy also offers a learning solution for businesses to allow their employees to access top courses relating to employee skills and development. Companies currently utilizing Udemy for job training include Lyft, Volkswagen, and PayPal, among others.

In this interview, Shelley Osborne, Udemy’s Head of Learning and Development, discusses millennials in workplace and the untrue stereotype of millennials as lazy and entitled.

To learn more or sign up for your own class, check out the interview below with Shelley and visit their website at www.udemy.com

EP 175: Making Math Interactive at MoMath

In the early 2000s, the Goudreau Museum closed. It was a small math museum on Long Island, but it sparked an outrage among a small group of people who met up in 2008 to open a new math museum. Despite the need for effective math programming, there was no existing math museum in the United States.

Now, the National Museum of Mathematics, or the MoMath, aims to “enhance public understanding and perception or mathematics” through exhibitions and galleries that explain the role of mathematics in the things we see every day, with a particular focus on how art and math intersect.

MoMath is located in Manhattan, New York, and is open 364 days a year. It features programs and exhibits that strive to showcase math in a different light, in a way that is meant to spark enjoyment and interest in the subject.

Upcoming events include “Math Encounters,” an exhibit that explains the similarities between math and dance; “Escher,” a guided tour of an exhibit of works by artist M.C. Escher with Dave Masunaga; “Expressions,” a hackathon hosted by the museum; and “Math Walk in the Park,” a walk through Madison Square Park with Ron Lancaster, where he explains how math is present everywhere.

Other popular programs include the Derivatives tour and the Explorations program, which provides a hands-on experience in a classroom setting that allows families to explore math in a positive way. They have been visited by hundreds of thousands of people in the decade they’ve been open and have led programs and math tours in cities across the country.

One of their current exhibits is called “Reflections: Geometries of the Reflected World.” It focuses on how geometry is seen in the real world, showcasing art from artists Scott Kim and Michael Curry. The exhibit is largely interactive.

MoMath has also been honored with several awards for their work, including the 2016 Communications Award for Public Outreach, the Best Museum for Kids, the 2013 MUSE Award for Education and Outreach, and the Most Fascinating Museum in New York State.

To learn more about MoMath, visit their website at www.momath.org and listen to the full podcast interview with Executive Director Cindy Lawrence below.

EP 174: Teaching STEM Creatively at the Geek Group

The Geek Group’s primary goal is to provide people with easy access to an education based on science and technology, the chance to hone their skills and learn more about the world of STEM and programming, often in order to help them enter related fields. But the Geek Group’s programs, which are personalized based on the individual participant, are available to all ages and experience levels. They simply want to ensure that everyone who enters later emerges armed with new skills to help them achieve their own goals.

The Geek Group was born out of a goal to evaluate and service its participants’ needs on an individual level to ensure that everyone receives the education and skills that they require to find their own success. The law of large numbers guides this principle — whether Geek Group is helping someone learn to use a computer or offering months of work experience, in the end, the time and effort put into each case averages out. This way, they can help more people achieve their goals through flexible programs that cater directly to them.


The Geek Group focuses on “community, access, and enjoyment.” They aim to create a community of participants and volunteers that help people achieve their goals regardless of age or experience. And most importantly, they want their education to be fun, something more than just a path to a job — learning is “a life-long journey.”


The company also has a program called Open Doors for Teens, an education program for students that offers a full-time school as well as other types of programming, often used with home schooling. They also help provide computers and other types of modern essential technology to families who need it, based on the idea that “technology at home is mandatory” in today’s technologically driven society.


The Geek Group’s educators are primarily volunteers and experts in their fields, which allow the programs to be so successful. Industry professionals can choose how much time they wish to dedicate.


The Geek Group also runs a YouTube channel boasting nearly 100,000 subscribers. The channel features videos on a variety of topics including how toy manufacturers incorrectly represent dinosaurs and a popular playlist called “Equipment Autopsies.” The videos also aim to be educational, informative, and interesting, with different videos catering to audiences of all ages.


To learn more about Geek Group, check out their channel at https://www.youtube.com/user/thegeekgroup and their website at www.thegeekgroup.org. To hear the full interview with Executive Director Lis Bokt, listen to the full podcast below.

EP 173: New York Teacher Shares his Passion for Math Rap Education

Seven years ago, Mike Andrejkovics wrote the first rap he ever performed to his students. Since then, this has evolved into a long-standing tradition, where Mr. A writes a rap and performs an accompanying music video to the school where he teaches in Long Island, New York.

His raps are less about specific topics and more about his own appreciation for math. It began as a way to motivate his students to do the same and engage in math by writing music about it. Each year, a handful of his students write and perform their own music videos and song parodies.

His raps are often parodies of popular songs — for example, “The Real Math Students” in place of “The Real Slim Shady.” Other raps include “The Next Episode (Do Math Everyday),” “Learning Mathematics,” and “Math Workshop,” among others. He often performs his raps live at various conferences.

He also has a podcast on iTunes called “Mr. A’s Math Podcast,” which consists of videos that explain complicated math topics and is aimed at students.

To learn more about Mr. A, check out his YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCOIwfj9KJRGbIz5WQApS4fg and listen to the full podcast interview below.