If you’re looking for fun science videos and resources for bilingual classrooms or just have students interested in science, this is the article for you!
Learning science in English is a great way for students to build their overall language skills and equip themselves with the language skills they need to participate in the global scientific community.
All of the resources on this list are free, authentic English-language sources from the US that I have personally used over the past two years in bilingual high school programs.
Nat Geo offers thousands of professionally made proprietary videos with accurate captions. Topics are easy to search and the site automatically generates related video lists. Their 101 series is especially strong, particularly for use in secondary school science classes.
Most videos are around five minutes but you can also find videos under a minute long or lectures that go past an hour. Whether you’re looking for a short warmer video, general definitions and overviews, or in-depth dives, Nat Geo has what you need.
All of the Nat Geo videos are free and open without sign up. If you want to use their articles (which I have never used since they’re written at an extremely high level) you must have a subscription.
Nat Geo Kids is geared towards native speaker children; however, the language on the site is intermediate to advanced for the ESL classroom.
While the videos are a bit childish (I prefer to use videos from the regular Nat Geo site), the animal articles are really good for high intermediate vocabulary and elevating writing style. They pack a lot of great language into a manageable length for ESL learners.
The National Geographic Resource Library is a database of Nat Geo articles, videos, and photos. Their materials skew towards older kids but there is still a number of resources for younger kids.
If you know what you need for a particular lesson, narrow your search by media type, topic, and grade level. If you’re not sure where to start, try “Activities” and “Lessons”.
“Activities” are quite involved and most require at least 45 minutes. “Lessons” are groupings of activities meant to be taught over multiple days. The great thing about the lessons and activities is that they are so thorough. Everything you need–materials list, background info, all the photos, links–is right there, organized, and ready for you.
If you’re looking for shorter activities, I recommend looking for their “Ideas” (they appear when you use the search filter for “Activities” but are clearly labeled at the top as “Ideas”). “Ideas” are basically a list of thematically related subtopics.
The types of resources each subtopic contains varies. Some have just an infographic, map, or eye-catching photo to use as a warmer; others have multiple resources and a very loose lesson plan, and others link to interactives for other US and international organizations and museums.
One positive of the entire COVID situation is the expansion of public-access distance learning resources, and WGBH Boston’s is one of the best.
If you’re an instructor looking for complete lesson plans, this is the place to go. They have full and quality lessons with all the materials you need available online for free. Besides science, they also have lessons for language arts, social studies, and math.
Like Nat Geo, this site is geared toward native English children, so you may need to look outside your students’ age range to find the right materials for them.
PBS Learning Media is the parent site of WGBH Distance Learning and has expanded resources and lessons. You can do a simple search for your topics or use the filters to narrow by grade level (don’t forget, you may need to skew younger) or media type.
The site has full lessons which I have used in the classroom and also interactive lessons for digital classrooms. If you’re just looking for videos or support for your own lesson, all the media they have is available on its own so teachers can take what they want and leave the rest.
NOVA is PBS’s science documentary channel and NOVA Education is a collection of articles and videos geared towards high school but also applicable to middle school and university. Unlike PBS Learning Media and Nat Geo Video, NOVA is almost exclusively comprised of full-length documentaries, usually running between 30 minutes and 2 hours. All videos come with a complete transcript.
I like NOVA for upper level truly bilingual science classes where the students already have a high level of English and familiarity with the technical scientific language. For other students, I think the videos are too challenging and too long.
NOVA’s science articles are not as in-depth as their documentaries, but there is no way to grade the language, so again, it’s most useful for advanced students or those that already have a certain degree of familiarity with scientific English.
NOVA is very searchable and, since it’s an affiliate of PBS, also links you to related resources from PBS Learning Media.
Mystery Science offers mini-lessons and full 45-90 minute lessons for elementary schoolers. Honestly, I don’t really care for the mini-lessons that much; I think the Nat Geo videos are better. But I do like Mystery Science’s full lessons and activities.
As a language assistant, I was expected to teach and find activities for each topic, but I didn’t have a scientific background or any prior experience teaching science. You don’t need any of that to have a great Mystery Science lesson! The full lessons are high quality and easy to follow, and all the printouts or links you need are right there.
You don’t need an account to access their remote learning resources. If you like those lessons, you can sign up for a free account. When you sign up, you have a free trial until June 30, 2021.
Science Bob has experiments at all levels of difficulty and from many different fields of science. Every experiment is clearly written and available as a printable pdf. I like the simple experiments best like making plastic milk and slime.
If you don’t need the science focus, just ignore the comprehension questions at the end and use the experiment as practice for following instructions and reading a recipe. Experiments are a more novel way of practicing those skills than following a cooking recipe.
Don’t let the name intimidate you. NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory has hands-on science, math, technology, and engineering activities and experiments for all grade levels.
The experiments are more complex and the explanations are more difficult to follow than Science Bob. You really need to do these in the lab with them.
The “Family Activity” lessons have experiments that require only household materials. Those might be a better fit for distance learning projects.
A lot of the lessons are quite complex but can be broken down into simpler components, like the Tangram Rocket. I think the full lessons are better left to math and science teachers. As an ESL teacher, I like to pick and choose small parts that I can add to my own lessons.
Teaching content in English is a great way to engage your students and build linguistic competency. Science is just one of many subjects you can use to engage your students and encourage learning
I hope you find this list helpful. Please share any science sites and resources you like to use in the comments!