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First Video Visionary Award – Education Recipient: Symphony of Science

by Real Team on July 13, 2012

Video Visionary Education Symphony of ScienceEarlier this month we announced a new category in RealPlayer’s Video Visionary Award series – Education. We’re happy to announce the first recipient is John D. Boswell and the Symphony of Science series of videos. The award recognizes those who are using the power of video to create world-class educational content for the masses.

The Symphony of Science is a musical education project created by Boswell to put a new twist on an educational topic essential to human development. Boswell’s musical knowledge and curiosity in science resulted in a project that is gaining recognition as one of the more progressive forms of video education in the world.

ONLINE VIDEO HELPS TRANSLATE COMPLEX SCIENCE CONCEPTS INTO MEMORABLE MELODIES

By using his combination of song writing skills, digital audio expertise, and digital video prowess Boswell has created a successful educational project and YouTube channel that is garnering attention around the world for its creative take on the subject of science. Some of the topics the videos cover include space exploration, dinosaurs, aspects of the brain, and more. Here’s the “We Are Stardust” video from Symphony of Science:

VIDEO VISIONARY INTERVIEW WITH SYMPHONY OF SCIENCE

We recently caught up with John D. Boswell to ask him a few questions about his process for creating these educational videos and to learn more about what inspires him to create and share these engaging videos.

RealPlayer (RP): Can you talk a little bit about what education means to you and what you set out to accomplish when you began creating the videos in your Symphony of Science series?

John D. Boswell (JDB): Thank you for the honor!  I believe it’s crucial that the general public has a basic understanding of science and the scientific issues that our society currently faces. The success of our civilization is owed in large part to scientific discoveries, and its progress and upkeep will depend upon future scientific research and new technologies. Without a public that is at least generally aware of the importance and awesomeness of science, it will be a lot harder to overcome the hurdles this century presents us. The videos are designed to educate the uninitiated and inspire both science lovers and laypeople. In this age of shortening attention spans, a different kind of science outreach is necessary to reach certain parts of the public, and I hope to have an impact with my relatively short and engaging music videos.

RP: What has the success of your videos meant to your current approach to creating content?

JDB: The first video, A Glorious Dawn, was created under the assumption that it would have little to no publicity.  As such, the theme is less cohesive than the subsequent videos. The success of that first installment encouraged me to focus on different concepts or branches of science moving forward. Space is often the most awe-inspiring topic to cover in the songs, but there are amazing stories to be found in all fields of science that deserve to be told in this manner as well.

RP: What would you say to an educator who was considering using your videos in the classroom?

JDB: I would highly encourage any educators to use the videos as an appetizer for teaching the corresponding ideas to their students. Watching the videos alone is not enough to become educated on any particular topic, but the upbeat music and inspirational overtones have been successful in getting people of all ages excited about science and interested in the various concepts the series covers.

RP: Can you share a bit about your own education and who some of your major influences were growing up? 

JDB: I have been fortunate to have had a great education through most of my childhood; like many people I was intensely interested in space as a child. Although I went on to get a degree in economics, my interest in science was refueled while taking electives at college, which is also when I saw Cosmos for the first time.  There is a certain allure to the majesty and epic scale of space that refuses to subside. Watching Cosmos was instrumental in helping me to become a strong science advocate.

RP: Music is a program we are seeing dropped from schools across the country and a skill you’ve used to help educate others. What would you say to a person who was in charge of making that decision?

JDB: Although the rationale for cutting music programs in favor of others may seem appealing, I would argue that play is equally as important in youthful development as traditional studies. I believe a society’s willingness to fund the arts reflects its maturity; music should not be regarded as a less than essential part of education.

RP: Finally, what are your future plans for the Symphony of Science YouTube channel and what would you say to somebody who is trying to make educational video content moving forward?

JDB: There will be more Symphony of Science videos in the coming weeks covering a variety of topics; in the long term, I hope to create a CD/DVD compilation of all the songs and distribute it to schools as well as commercially to fans of the music videos. I am always open to new suggestions, so please get in touch with me if you have any.  To anybody who is making educational video content, I would say know your audience, maintain consistent quality, and keep at it – you never know when your lucky break will be.

For more information on his work and future endeavors, you can follow Symphony of Science on Twitter, visit its Facebook page, and of course watch the videos on YouTube.

Click here for instructions on how to nominate a series of educational videos to receive a Video Visionary – Education  award.

What do you think of  the Symphony of Science series of videos? Did they inspire you to explore science? What’s your favorite video?

 

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jos July 17, 2012 at 3:00 pm

My favourite video from TSOS is “We are all connected”, because it is underlining the fact that we in fact are connected. I am very confident in the idea, that once everyone, or at least most of us, will realize that we are connected to eachother, by any means, that most of todays problems will be history.

As an advocate of the “third industrial revolution”or a “resourced based global economy”or a “type one civilization” , I would love to see TSOS making a video which contains footage from either Jeremy Rifkin, Daniël Nocera, Peter Joseph and Jacque Fresco, but I bet I am not the only one. (just include some strong words from John Lennon and Martin Luther King jr, and a new world is on the way!) =)

Maybe I rely heavily on some sensitive political issues, but nonetheless, these people don’t practice politics in any way, but they really want everyone to get involved in building a better world for everyone, no one excluded!

Thank you!

2 John C. Kovach July 20, 2012 at 5:56 pm

I have known these basic ideas since elementary school. I had assumed that they were common knowledge until in the last several years I have been told about the stardust theories, unity stories and other variations of class I civilization goals. Also, I was shocked that several public school educators have told me that arts, advanced sciences and especially history are of no importance in the public school systems because the purpose of education is only to teach students to add numbers at a cash register, take measurements and read instructions. It appears that the new goals of those directing the schools are those of utilitarians and socialists. This was an interesting video but the content is ages old.

3 Vicky July 23, 2012 at 8:46 pm

Oh this is great news! I love Symphony of Science and am delighted that the creator has received an award. I have three children under 12 and have shown them all the videos (and they love them). My personal favourite is the one on Quantum Theory (“…12 particles of matter, 4 forces of nature…”) because I just love Brian Cox ;-) . The first one I ever saw affected me the most though – the one where Carl Sagan starts by saying he can’t sing a note then goes into the whale song! Laughed and cried through that one!

Heartfelt congratulations Mr Boswell! We’re all looking forward to the new clips.

Cheers
Vicky – Australia

ps suggested topic? Maybe the oceans?

4 Euler July 23, 2012 at 10:43 pm

I believe John Boswell is a genius! He is a great talent not only in making music, but also in making videos. The first thing I thought when I saw one of the videos was: are there more? Then, when I saw all the others I thought: science will, one day, thank this guy a lot.

Like many people, I’ve been interested in science tv shows all my life, but I didn’t know one tenth of the scientists he uses in his videos. Then, watching his videos, and reading the descriptions, I went after the full videos. So will many people do. He may be building a whole new generation of science curious people.

Kudos, John Boswell! Thanks for all that great information and awsome music!

5 Neil August 16, 2012 at 11:39 pm

Brilliant stuff. My niece and nephew are smart (and LOVE dinosaurs) and both have musical talent and enjoy science at school. I have shown them your works and now they are even keener to learn more. (May have had something to do with my Palaeontology Degree!!!)

Always looking forward to your next piece.

Cheers.

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