Science Tiktokers: Fun, Education, and Crazy Experiments
A new generation of MIT students is looking for innovative ways to share the latest scientific progress and encourage diversity.
If you want to learn about carbon capture through electrolysis powered by renewable energy, TikTok may not be the first source that comes to mind. However, a Tiktoker like @nasjaq has close to a million followers who would beg to differ. Similarly, @DrKate is an epidemiologist who explained coronavirus-related topics to over a hundred thousand followers during the last year. One-minute videos, often with accelerated speech and trendy music hits, are new gateways to the world of science and technology.
Among the latest stars in science communication are twins Malik and Miles George, both MIT students. Their channel, launched in early 2021, has gone viral with a mix of humor, challenges, reflections on engineers and researchers' daily lives, and the inclusion of black people in STEM degrees. As told on the MIT news page, they started with a first generic channel that soon surpassed two hundred thousand followers. However, they wanted to do something more focused on science and communication, which led them to open their current channel.
Fostering a community
One example of their videos is the explanation of the hydrophobic qualities of pepper or the surfactant qualities of soap. They often pick up on TikTok trends and offer a STEM angle. Still, they are also very keen on live events where they communicate with all kinds of audiences, from high school students to university undergraduates. At this type of event, they often resolve doubts and encourage discussion among participants. Moreover, some high school teachers have contacted them to suggest live events with their students. Malik and Miles insist that this platform allows them to promotes diversity in STEM careers through their example, always with a casual and friendly tone.
Also trending in the Spanish-speaking world
Of course, the phenomenon goes beyond the English-speaking world. In countries such as Chile and Mexico, STEM communicators are doing similar work. Each channel has its style and subject matter, but it is worth highlighting figures such as @MirandaLunaUrano, a Mexican who dreams of becoming an astronaut and covers issues related to space exploration. Another science communicator on TikTok is @Terepaneque, this time Chilean, who usually talks about science and astronomy, explaining phenomena such as eclipses or the collision between galaxies. In Spain, one of the pioneers is @LadyScience, who accumulates almost half a million followers. Although her channel is not strictly scientific, she combines playful videos with others to refute hoaxes or explain phenomena such as ferromagnetism.
As is the case with YouTube, the world of podcasts is much more consolidated in terms of scientific communication. It would be necessary to write an article in its own right to talk about them. Some of them are hosted by renowned experts such as Neil deGrasse Tyson, who has produced hundreds of episodes of his StarTalk program. However, we cannot conclude this article without mentioning “La canica azul” (The Blue Marble, in English), the podcast recently launched by Sustainability for All, our sister site. This space addresses the role of new technologies in improving the sustainability of the planet and concepts such as the carbon cycle or the use of renewable energies. Whether through podcasts, TikTok videos, or blogs, there have never been so many channels and platforms to approach the world of science and technology.