Play Games and Explore Videos to Increase Science Learning and Engagement

Discover how the intentional use of science games and videos in your classroom can activate and expand thinking and learning.

Grades K-12 10 min Resource by:
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Students love to play games and watch videos, so why not have them learn while engaging in them? Games have been around since ancient times and are a part of almost all cultures, and many of today’s students are very engaged through games. To learn more about how games can improve learning, check out the Tech Talk For Teachers podcast episode, Game-Based Learning as a Medium to Connect With Every Child.

In addition to games, humans now consume information in a multitude of ways, especially through video. There are about 60 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every second of every day. According to Common Sense Media, teenagers (ages 13–18) use an average of 9 hours of entertainment media per day and tweens (ages 8–12) use an average of 6 hours a day. We know through research that not all screen time is created equal. As pointed out in the AVID Open Access article, Left to Their Own Devices: Not All Screen Time Is Created Equal, there are two main types of screen time: passive and active. Active screen time includes engaging in physical and/or cognitively stimulating activities. Science learning games are a type of active screen time and can increase student understanding.

The tools on this page focus on science videos and games that can be used with students. Nearly all are free, or have components that are free, and are easily accessible on most digital platforms.

Science Learning Games

  • Legends of Learning: Over 2,000 math and science games are offered through Legends of Learning. These games for students in grades K–8 are standards-aligned. Create and assign a playlist of learning activities. Assign with a direct link and teacher code. View analytics.
  • Molecularium Project: This site offers games to learn about atoms and molecules.
  • Science Games: A variety of interactive science games for grades K–6 are included through this site.
  • PBS Kids Design Squad Global: Design Squad Global empowers middle school kids to solve real-world problems and understand the impact of engineering in a global context. The site is refreshed weekly with challenges and activities. Watch, design, build, and play games.
  • Solve the Outbreak: This interactive problem-solving challenge is provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). There are two levels of interactive challenges—Level 1 and Level 2—for a total of 20 challenges. When you click on a level, you can select the outbreak to solve. Each game provides clues and questions to earn points in solving the outbreak.
  • Stop Disasters!: This simulation game allows the player to engage in strategies to reduce natural disasters.

Science Learning Videos

  • Generation Genius: This is a freemium site, meaning some content is accessible only with a subscription. However, there’s also many highly engaging and student-friendly videos and activities available for free. You can filter and search for videos appropriate for grades K–8.
  • Khan Academy: While this site offers a complete eLearning platform, you don’t need to use the entire product. Instead, you can harvest individual videos from this extensive collection to flip your own lessons or provide reteaching support. Course collections are available for a variety of courses, including biology, chemistry, physics, environmental science, and more. These videos are also available on YouTube.
  • Learn.Genetics: This site from the University of Utah offers videos, interactives, and other resources for the study of genetics, bioscience, and health. Subcategories include genetics, evolution, cell biology, human health, plants, neuroscience, ecology, and science tools.
  • Minute Earth: This is a collection of short, free videos hosted on YouTube. Subtopics include animal behavior, geology, anatomy and heath, atmospheric science, biology, Earth history, and more.
  • Minute Physics: These short videos are also free and hosted on YouTube. As the title suggests, topics are physics-focused.
  • NC State Organic Chemistry: This YouTube channel is focused on organic chemistry labs and offers a collection of short videos (most under 4 minutes) demonstrating labs.
  • PBS Kids Design Squad Global: Also mentioned in the “Science Learning Games” section above, Design Squad Global offers learning videos for science, too.
  • PBS Science! KIDS: This collection of short, free videos is sponsored by the Public Broadcast Service. Students can watch the hosts conduct interest-capturing science experiments. This page also has links to other science and nature shows from PBS, such as Nature, NOVA, Earth Emergency, and Animal IQ.
  • Phenomena for NGSS: This site provides a collection of science phenomena videos that are tailor-made for science inquiry and student engagement.
  • SciShow Kids: This YouTube channel is best for younger learners. The short, engaging videos focus on a variety of science topics, with a consistent host and animal friend (Squeaks).
  • Sick Science!: This collection of science videos has been put together by award-winning television personality and science enthusiast, Steve Spangler. Browse videos or explore the curated playlists. Many videos are recordings of Spangler performing and explaining science experiments on television appearances.
  • Spectacular Science: Access this collection of free science videos from National Geographic Kids. Videos include closed captions and must be viewed on the National Geographic website.
  • TeacherTube: Browse or search thousands of teacher-created instructional videos by content area. Videos are organized into subcategories (for example, Elementary > Science > Educational Songs or High School > Science > Biology). This site offers embed codes, so you can put the videos directly into your webpage or learning management system.