Next »

Course Meeting Times

This course took place over IAP (2015)

Lectures / Workshops: 5 sessions / week, 3 hours / session

Course Description

Becoming the Next Bill Nye is about using video production techniques to develop your ability to engagingly convey your passions for science, technology, engineering, and / or math. You’ll have the opportunity to script and on-screen host 5-minute YouTube science, technology, engineering, and / or math-related shows to inspire youth to consider a future in science.

Workshop-style lectures, with industry guest speakers, focus on developing students’ basic scripting, hosting, and video production skills in the context of understanding digital media literacy, K-12 education, science advocacy, and engaging a lay audience. Students are expected to critically analyze case studies of popular hosts and shows in addition to completing iterative, project-based assignments and peer-critiques, culminating in a 5-minute final episode. Selected groups will have the opportunity to continue optional development of episodes with a professional production crew for the MIT+K12 Videos Science Out Loud series during the final week of IAP. Enrollment limited to 24 students, open to all majors.

Use of Tumblr for the Course Website

This course used a Tumblr to allow students and instructors to document and share their process, difficulties, and lessons learned with each other during the course. Tumblr is a platform that allows users to post multimedia and other content to a short-form blog. In this course, students submitted most of their homework on the Tumblr, which allowed the instructors and students to see and review each other’s work. The course Tumblr also includes links to reference material that students could use. These Tumblr posts are sorted and collected on OCW in the Student Projects and Student Reflections sections.

Learning Outcomes

After taking this course, students should be able to:

  • Thoughtfully and clearly communicate science, technology, engineering, and / or math topics to a lay audience in an engaging manner—textually, visually, and verbally.
  • Understand the media production process—from design to premiere of their own videos.
  • Develop their own hosting and scripting style stemming from an understanding of what makes a successful communicator and guide.
  • Critically analyze video-based entertainment and education, particularly in the context of K-12 students.
  • Transfer video production skills to future projects.

Key Skills

  • Engaging oral presentation skills
  • Clear, written science communication; storytelling and script writing
  • Providing peer critique
  • Producing video (filming and editing)
  • Gaining digital media literacy—familiarity with YouTube, online video communities

Next »

« Previous | Next »

Use of Electronic Devices

Since this is, ultimately, a class on digital media and literacy, it is acceptable (and often required) to have your computers and phones in class. Please see the Calendar to note when it will be most beneficial to have these devices at hand. We will not micromanage your use of these devices, however, please be considerate of the learning experiences of your classmates and yourselves while you are in class.

Academic Integrity & Group Work

You are allowed (and encouraged!) to discuss all aspects of the course with your fellow students, to get editorial feedback on your responses, and to get technical / methodological / conceptual help on your projects. However, we expect you to credit those who helped you by name, and that the work should still be substantively your own. If you have any questions, you should review the Academic Integrity Handbook or talk to the instructors.

« Previous | Next »

« Previous | Next »

We will not be formally teaching editing during class time, but there are several helpful tutorials online that will get you through learning the basic techniques. We will spend class time discussing the philosophy of editing, in addition to offering office hours. You are welcome to use the editing software of your choice. These tutorials are for platforms that range in increasing difficulty:

« Previous | Next »

« Previous | Next »

Course equipment will be available for your use during workshops and to make your assignments. There is enough equipment for this class to work in pairs. The equipment list includes:

  • Canon VIXIA HF R500 Camcorders
  • Smith-Victor Apollo 2800 Tripods
  • Sony ECM-44B Lavalier Microphones

There is also a DSLR and LED light kit available to students who would like to create higher production-value projects. You are also welcome to use your own cameras, tripods, mic, etc. For many assignments, using an iPhone camera may actually work just fine.

« Previous | Next »

« Previous | Next »

The majority of the class assignments (daily blogs, peer feedback) will be graded on a three-point scale of good, sufficient, or incomplete (or a zero for no work). I (Elizabeth) will be completing assignments along with you, and you can turn to my examples as points of reference for expected effort. We emphasize thoughtfulness toward process rather than churning out a product (however, product quality will be graded as well). All assignments are due by noon the following class day unless otherwise noted.

The following are our class values, and all assignments will be graded keeping these qualities in mind:

  • Spark
  • Clarity
  • Thoughtfulness
  • Challenge

This is the Grading Rubric (PDF) that we will use. Keep in mind that specificities will vary depending on the assignment and how far along we are in class. We will provide you with feedback (numerical and written) using this rubric for all assignments (which should give you a sense of where you stand in the class).

The total grade for this class will be based upon the following weighted factors:

  • 25% Class Participation

    • Because this is a workshop-based course, and because sessions will build upon each other, it is crucial to attend every class and be prompt for the start of class. Exceptions will be granted only for extenuating circumstances, and only in advance.
    • Meaningful peer feedback will be crucial throughout the production process, and we expect you to be involved and engaged students in this workshop-based class (discussions, table reads, rough cut annotations, etc.)
  • 20% Daily Blog / Vlog Reflections

    • You are expected to upload documentation on your process / difficulties / lessons learned in completing assignments or insights gained from class workshops. This can take the form of a written blog post reflection, photos, a “selfie” video (<2 min.), or other creative media format of your choice. I (Elizabeth) will upload examples on the class site along with you all.
    • Instructions for how to post your blog/vlog on Tumblr
    • You must post daily blogs by 10 AM the following day.
    • Rubric: Daily assignments will be graded on a three-point scale of good, sufficient, or incomplete (or a zero for no or late work).
  • 25% Workshop Products

    • Working on your own or in small teams, you will be required to produce iterations of your final project components (scripts, storyboards, scenes, rough cuts, etc.)
    • For reading assignments, documents will be posted on Annotation Studio. Comment on the document with your responses to the readings and to your classmates. This will be graded on a three-point scale of good, sufficient, or incomplete (or a zero for no work).
  • 30% Final Project

    • The work over IAP will culminate in each of you creating a <5 min. episode. Individual grades = 65% your work (script, hosting, etc.), 35% the production you did for your partner (filming).
    • We will select the top projects to professionally produce for Season 3 of Science Out Loud.

« Previous | Next »

« Previous | Next »


Elizabeth Choe


Elizabeth Choe is the Program Director and Executive Producer of MIT+K12 Videos, a STEM outreach media program in the Office of Digital Learning. Born and raised in Columbia, Missouri, Elizabeth’s love of science was cultivated by the various wildlife in her backyard and an extensive amount of Animal Planet viewing. Somewhere along the way, she realized that her love of biology extended beyond snakes and bugs, and she conducted nanoparticle-based cancer therapy research while getting her B.S. in Biological Engineering at MIT. She worked for a Boston-based television production company developing science show pitches, was a former student filmmaker for the pilot round of MIT+K12 Videos, and has produced award-winning video content for MIT’s Office of Undergraduate Admissions. She is the creator of Science Out Loud, Q’s View, #askMIT, and the outreach and educational programming of K12Videos.

Jaime Goldstein

Jaime Goldstein is the Communication Lab Director and an Instructor in Biological Engineering at MIT. Jaime joined MIT in the fall of 2012. Jaime holds a BA in Environmental Studies and Non-Fiction Writing from The University of Pennsylvania as well as a Masters in Education from The University of Pennsylvania. Jaime began her writing career as an undergraduate when she earned a Nassau Fund Award for her research about innovative approaches to protect Utah’s wilderness. Soon after, she became a writer and editor for Backpacker Magazine and then segued into the classroom as a UPENN Dean’s Scholar, where she taught English for several years. In addition to teaching, Jaime enjoys being challenged in administrative roles ranging from the Associate Dean of Academic Preparation for The Steppingstone Foundation to the Chief of Staff at the Longy School of Music, Bard College. When not being an educational entrepreneur, Jaime can be found hiking with her three-legged dog, Stephen, and her family.


Ceri Riley

Ceri Riley is an MIT 2016 undergraduate double-majoring in Comparative Media Studies and Biology. As an Educational Media Fellow with MIT+K12 Videos, a UROP with the MITx Biology team, and an MIT Admissions Blogger, she creates all kinds of engaging and educational digital media. She has also interned in comic book publishing, transmedia production, and cable TV production and editing.


Chris Boebel

Chris Boebel is Manager of Media Development at MIT’s Office of Digital Learning, and a producer/director of documentaries at MIT and beyond. Chris is also instructor and co-developer of MIT’s “DV Lab”, a graduate and undergraduate course that combines theoretical analysis of science documentaries with hands-on documentary production. He has produced and directed feature films, shorts, television programs, and numerous educational media projects. Chris’s work has screened at more than 50 film festivals around the world, including the Sundance Film Festival, and has appeared on many television networks, including PBS, the BBC, and Nickelodeon. At MIT, he co-produced and was the Documentary Director for the Emmy-Award winning, “Awakening,” broadcast on WGBH. Currently, he is collaborating with his wife, MIT Anthropology Professor Christine Walley, on a new documentary project entitled, “Exit Zero,” a first-person account of the long-term impact of deindustrialization in Southeast Chicago. Chris is an alumnus of New York University’s Graduate Film Program in the Tisch School of the Arts and has been a resident fellow at the Millay Colony for the Arts.

George Zaidan

George Zaidan is a card-carrying nerd and lifelong teacher. He studied chemistry as an undergrad at MIT, and is a Goldwater Scholar and a 2012 New Media Consortium Emerging Leader. He has written and hosted series for The Weather Channel, TED-Education, and National Geographic. His science media production company, Free Energy Productions, has produced video for MIT, IBR, Sangari Active Science, Discover Magazine and New Scientist. His recent projects include Chem Lab Boot Camp, a reality series following students as they experience MIT’s freshman chemistry lab course. George is a blogger for The Huffington Post, a trustee of the Washington International School, and a Fellow of the Institute for Education. He is also an avid golfer and a recreational cook. George directs filming for Science Out Loud and Q’s View.

Joshua Gunn

Josh Gunn started Planet Nutshell in 2007, with a background in motion graphics, writing, and storytelling. As a former employee, Josh worked to explain thousands of products to customers using methods that engaged, informed, and entertained them along the way. Before Amazon, he taught creative writing at The University of Washington. Planet Nutshell lets Josh keep exploring new ways to help people “funderstand” a complicated world. Josh holds a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from The University of Washington and he received his BA in English from The Colorado College. In his spare time, he works as a journalist, short story writer, and essayist. His work has appeared in leading publications including The Atlantic and

Natalie Kuldell

Dr. Natalie Kuldell is the director of a web-based resource called BioBuilder that applies biology to solve engineering challenges, as well as the president of an educational non-profit organization called the BioBuilder Educational Foundation that aims to convert current research into teachable form. She runs BioBuilder summer workshops to train teachers in the engineering of biology and ways to teach it. Outside of her BioBuilder work, she is also an affiliate of MIT’s Department of Biological Engineering, a co-PI on a grant with Boston’s Museum of Science to engage the public with the engineering of biology, a recent visiting scientist with the National Center for Science and Civic Engagement, and a member of several advisory Boards that work on STEM education issues and reform.

« Previous | Next »

« Previous | Next »

Unfortunately, our time is quite limited in this class. I highly recommend the following readings should you want to learn more about video production and learning. You are welcome to submit reflections on any portion of these readings in lieu of other reading assignments or blog posts:

Stockman, Steve. How to Shoot Video That Doesn’t Suck: Advice to Make Any Amateur Look Like a Pro. Workman Publishing Company, 2011. ISBN: 9780761163237. [Preview with Google Books]

Murch, Walter. In the Blink of an Eye: A Perspective on Film Editing. Silman-James Press, 2001. ISBN: 9781879505629.

Voltz, Stephen, and Fritz Grobe. The Viral Video Manifesto: Why Everything You Know is Wrong and How to Do What Really Works. McGraw-Hill Education, 2012. ISBN: 9780071803380. [Preview with Google Books]

« Previous | Next »

Learning Resource Types
Lecture Videos
Projects with Examples
Instructor Insights