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Scientists Share Research, Personal Stories in Kids’ Video Series

Dinosaurs, robots, and volcanoes are often the stars of children’s science news, but a new video resource from AAAS’s EurekAlert! news service shows that scientists themselves can be compelling characters.

In his short video on the EurekAlert! Kids site, neurobiologist Erich Jarvis from the Duke University Medical Center talks about his research on language and stuttering among parrots and songbirds. But he also discusses the major decision he faced at the end of high school: Should he take the audition with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and pursue a career in ballet? Or should he find out how to become a scientist?

Jarvis’ wide-ranging interview is one of a growing collection of short videos, available without charge, that showcase scientists and their latest discoveries. The researchers discuss topics from finding new planets to following bats in the night sky, and share stories from their childhood that pointed them toward a life in science.

The videos are targeted at children between nine and 14 years old, said Jennifer Gibson, EurekAlert! multimedia coordinator, who seeks out new scientists for the series. The researchers receive a set of questions in advance, and Gibson works with them to make sure that their answers are clear to a middle school audience.

Duke University Medical Center researcher Erich Jarvis discusses his childhood interest in science.

“We want to make sure that the topic is something that will hold kids’ interest,” she explained, noting that this can be more difficult when it comes to highly technical research in biology and chemistry.

“What makes this video series really interesting is that the interviews focus on current research. So the videos give kids a glimpse of what is happening right now in the world of science,” said Patrick McGinness, director of EurekAlert! “This also makes the videos a great source of content for science journalists who write for kids.”

The videos are also available on EurekAlert!’s YouTube channel, where some of the most-viewed selections include informal interviews with researchers at the 2011 AAAS Annual Meeting.

“I am a junior in high school in NY, and I am very interested in physics, and I was reading some books on astronomy and I really did enjoy them,” said one commenter on a video from Steve Vogt, an astronomer at the University of California, Santa Cruz. “And I would have to say that after watching this video, I am even more intrigued.”


Watch all of EurekAlert!’s videos for kids on YouTube.

Visit EurekAlert!’s Science Reporting for Kids Portal.

Learn more about EurekAlert!, the AAAS science news service.