The Periodic Table of Videos: MolVids

Lead Research Organisation: University of Nottingham
Department Name: Sch of Chemistry


This fast-track proposal has been prompted by the continuing suggestions from YouTube viewers of our Periodic Table of Videos (PTOV) that we should extend our scientific coverage to include topical molecules of general interest. PTOV is a website based on YouTube where viewers can click on any one of the 118 elements and watch a video about that element. PTOV is a collaboration between East Midlands-based freelance video journalist Brady Haran and a team of chemists at the University of Nottingham. Initially completed in July 2008, PTOV has been updated weekly with new videos; some about elements or topical subjects, as well as chemical road trips to Sweden, Ethiopia and the USA. On average, each video has been watched 35-40k times, and two have had > 350k hits; the whole site has attracted more than 7 million hits (excluding multiple viewing by school classes across the world). We believe that PTOV is now one of the most successful science channels on YouTube and it was highlighted in the 2009 EPSRC International Review of Chemistry. Funding for PTOV has come partly from EPSRC with more than matching funds from the University of Nottingham. PTOV has now spawned a sister website, Sixty Symbols applying a similar approach to physics. In this Proposal we are seeking modest funding to apply the same approach to the chemistry of molecules, under the provisional name MolVids, with the aim of combining chemically informative videos with an enthusiastic and often humorous tone which we have found to resonate with viewers across the world from primary school age to Nobel Laureates. Specifically, we are requesting funding to support collaboration with Brady Haran, for a macro lens to add to our video camera, and modest consumables for demonstrations that will be recorded for new videos. Life on the internet moves fast, therefore we are seeking fast-track funding so that we do not lose momentum.MolVids is a significant and, we believe, educationally valuable extension of our existing PTOV website. It will enable us for the first time to bring organic chemistry to a wide ranging YouTube audience and will allow us to highlight the chemical problems associated with many of the issues of climate change and sustainability that are currently major concerns of the public in general and young people in particular. The EPSRC International Review of Chemistry commented on the value-for-money of PTOV as a public engagement activity. We believe that MolVids will be equally cost-effective. If we succeed in repeating the viewing figures that we have achieved for our PTOV clips, a conservative estimate suggests that the proposed MolVids should attract 1 million hits within 2 years of the start of the project.


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Haran B (2011) SPORE series winner. The periodic table of videos. in Science (New York, N.Y.)

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Haran B (2013) Conveying the excitement of chemistry on YouTube. in Angewandte Chemie (International ed. in English)

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Poliakoff M (2015) The periodic table: icon and inspiration. in Philosophical transactions. Series A, Mathematical, physical, and engineering sciences

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Poliakoff M. (2013) Form test tube to YouTube in Education in Chemistry

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Description This EPSRC grant "Molvids" was additional to the initial funding from EP/D501229/1 which launched a YouTube website, The Periodic Table of Videos (PTOV) which has one video for each of the 118 chemical elements of the Periodic Table. The aim of this award was to extend the videos to molecules. It has been highly successful. At the time of writing Nov 10th, the whole PTOV website has uploaded 534 videos, which together have had a total of 76,169,051 views and an average of 142,639 views per video, and the channel passed 500k subscribers today (This compares with 416k for the New York Times and 131k for the British Monarchy). The website has had 7,554,395 views over the previous 90 days. The most popular Molecular Video, Cheeseburger in Hydrochloric Acid, has attracted 8,755,531 views (This alone represents ca. 360 views per £ of the EPSRC Molvid funding).
Exploitation Route The videos have been used by schools and universities across the world. This has been demonstrated not only by letters and e-mails sent to us but also by the number of invitations that we have received and continue to receive to give talks in schools and at educational conferences in the UK and overseas. Our EPSRC funding has been supplemented by £75k follow on funding from Aldrich Chemicals, the royal Society of chemistry and other donors. This represents a three-fold leverage of the EPSRC funding. The website has attracted 2011 SPORE Prize of Science magazine, the 2011 Nyholm Medal of the RSC, in 2012 16th Annual WEBBY Award for On-line & Video (Reality Category), and a 2014Award from the U21 international network of universities.
Sectors Education,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

Description Shortly before, the Award of the award of this grant, the 2009 EPSRC International Review of Chemistry said "Particularly impressive was a presentation describing online outreach including a "You Tube" video on the periodic table of the elements that has already received greater than a million "hits" worldwide. One member of the Panel stated that his daughter had shown him this several weeks ago, but without citing its origin. Such an approach to community outreach was extremely cost effective, reaching more than a thousand individuals per pound invested. Such outreach activities help to project a positive public perception of chemistry and of the academic institutions involved, but there appears to be no obvious metric establishing the resulting effect on attracting additional school age students into the discipline." Since the award, we have tried different approaches to assess the impact of our videos. A study was carried out on school classes as part of one of our 2013 REF Impact Case Studies which showed that the children's attitudes to chemistry were better informed after watching one of our videos. We have also discussed the problems of gauging impact in an invited paper in the high impact journal Nature Chemistry. In that paper, we concluded that the best indication of impact is the large number of e-mails, letters and even unsolicited gifts that we receive from young viewers across the world, some as young as five years old! These all confirm that the videos have really attracted the writers to chemistry, often when they had previously been quite disillusioned with the subject. In addition, we have had invitations to write about our videos in the prestigious journals Science, Angewandte Chemie and Education in Chemistry. Possibly, the most straightforward demonstration of impact is that the PI is frequently accosted by fans in public places across the world (Amsterdam, Beijing, Birmingham, Brussels, Chicago, Galway, London, Paris, etc).
First Year Of Impact 2011
Sector Education,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Societal