YouTube is not necessarily the first place you’ll look online when you’re on the hunt for educational content. Cat videos? Yes. Videos explaining the pythagorean theorem? No. You’re probably more likely to head straight for a website like TED, where you can stream and download fascinating content about everything from photography to psychology and human behaviour. But we wouldn’t write off YouTube just yet.
While the video sharing site might be better known for music videos, the Annoying Orange and, let’s face it, for being the cesspool of Internet comments, there are quite a few entertaining, educational videos that you can watch, and walk away with some pretty interesting knowledge you didn’t know beforehand. Rather than highlight specific videos, we’ve chosen five YouTube channels packed with entertaining, funny and informative content that you can watch when you have five minutes (or hours) to kill. In no particular order, they are…
Ze Frank’s True Facts About…
With a new video out every Thursday, you can depend on Ze Frank (of BuzzFeed) to keep you entertained, informed and in stitches for just under 5 minutes once a week. If this is the first you’re hearing of Ze Frank’s series – ‘True Facts About…’ you’re in luck because there’s a small backlog to go through. Every week, he picks a random animal – sometimes something as obscure as the aye-aye or as common as the duck. Then in true Discovery Channel fashion, he’ll tell you all sorts of interesting facts you didn’t know about the animal, interspersed with hilarious side-comments that, let’s be honest, are sometimes NSFW.
One of our favourite Ze Frank videos has to be True Facts About the Tarsier:
VSauce is a brilliant collection of educational videos and fun facts – the kind of which would probably never occur to you before visiting this channel. Asking random questions like Why are we ticklish and Why do we laugh? and What color is a mirror? There are a lot of random videos on VSauce that aren’t necessarily all that educational, but they’re certainly entertaining. In any case, the questions asked and answered will keep you informed.
Here’s one question you might not have taken too seriously, but VSauce breaks it down in Why did the Chicken cross the road?
VlogBrothers describes itself as “Raising nerdy to the power of awesome,” and it certainly does that and then some. Another channel with a significant backlog (which has earned it over a million subscribers), you’ll find everything from entertaining rants, videos where host Hank answers questions, videos featuring entertaining content from Reddit and more.
One of our favourite videos comes courtesy of Hank’s co-host, John, in which he shares the 5 worst typos of history:
History for Music Lovers
What do you get when you combine history, parody and music? You get History for Music Lovers. Taking popular songs by everyone from the Beatles to Lady Gaga, the original lyrics are replaced with significant moments in history. So Bad Romance by Lady Gaga turns into a song about the French revolution. HollaBack by Gwen Stefani becomes the soundtrack to the plague.
Best of all – Depeche Mode’s Personal Jesus transformed into a song about the Vikings:
Charlie is so Cool
While there is quite a bit of non-educational content on YouTube channel, Charlie is so Cool, he has at least gone to the trouble to create a playlist of Fun Science videos that will fascinate and entertain. Analyzing everything from the moon, time travel and saturn.
An excellent place to start is Charlie’s video about Sound, complete with a ukelele:
It’s not very often that you can combine entertainment and math in one sentence but that’s what Vi Hart manages to do. With everything from fractal fractions to the number Pi, the videos are educational and informative, accompanied by cute little doodles and cartoons.
Hands down, one of the best videos is the one that teaches you all about Pythagoras in a way which you would probably never get to learn about him, or his theory, in math class:
If you’re not necessarily in the most “educational” mood, there are quite a few other recommendations we have for you to keep up with YouTube content. Here are ten entertaining and amusing YouTube channels you should subscribe to. On the other hand, if you’d prefer your science minus a dose of humour, here are 10 science YouTube channels you should subscribe to.
Which channels would you add to the list? Share them with us in the comments.