Elementary and middle school educators in search of multimedia teaching materials can turn to the Smithsonian Science Education Center (SSEC). The STEM initiative run by the Smithsonian Institution has launched a web series called Good Thinking! that seeks to clear up scientific misconceptions through its cast of pleasant, colorfully-animated characters.
Good Thinking! takes place in a classroom where an instructor named Ms. Reyes teaches a perfectly diverse group of students. Some episodes explore specific topics, such as natural selection, while others take a more theoretical approach by discussing the ways in which students think and process information. Along the way, Ms. Reyes gets help from some anthropomorphic assistants, such as a talking orchid or what seems to be a sentient clump of dust.
As the SSEC explains, Good Thinking! is, despite its bright approach, intended for new teachers as much as students. Here’s how Marjee Chmiel, Associate Director of Curriculum and Communications for Smithsonian Institution, explained the series in a press release:
“Here at SSEC we identified a crucial need for accessible, professional development tools that help educators break down misconceptions and other barriers to understanding scientific principles. Good Thinking! meets that need head on – shining a light on the classroom and pedagogical challenges teachers face, and providing solid, science-based, experiential ideas that can keep their teaching on track. Through these engaging videos, which we expect teachers will share with their colleagues, we aim to enhance K-8 science education, and deepen understanding of STEM topics for teachers and students alike. No other on-demand resource like this exists.”
The SSEC plans to release more Good Thinking! videos throughout the summer. They can be viewed on the organization’s website and its YouTube channel.