A Collaboration in Curiosity

April 19
Office of Digital Learning

Children have a natural curiosity that leads them to explore, learn, and ask question after question (after question). It’s this drive for discovery that the team at MIT+K12 Videos aims to tap into through the #askMIT Q&A video series and its new collaboration with Curiosity – a learning platform that’s been called a new type of media company for the intellectually curious.

The #askMIT series invites kindergarten to 12th-grade students from all over the world to ask any question related to science, technology, engineering, or math, and submit it as a video via Facebook, Twitter, or email. Then, an MIT chemist, geneticist, nuclear engineer, roboticist, or rocket scientist provides the answer in a video online.

Questions asked to date have run the gamut, from Why do stars twinkle and move? to What does the future of nuclear science look like? to Could you make a unicorn by crossing DNA? The new #askMIT-Curiosity partnership hopes to produce a biweekly series, and has already launched with a question straight out of a child’s dream: Could you grow wings on your back and fly?

“I’m really excited about this collaboration,” says MIT+K12 Videos Program Director Elizabeth Choe. “It gives kids a chance to ‘meet’ the diverse community of scientists and engineers at MIT, who have the expertise to answer these big questions. Curiosity has the editors, animators, and graphic artists to put it all together. And their social media presence provides an expanded, engaged audience. It’s a natural match.”

Curiosity’s writers, designers, and engineers leverage their platform to inspire learning. Their team writes and designs engaging educational content and recommends additional videos based on similar core concepts.

While Curiosity has been sharing MIT-produced videos to its site and Facebook page for the past few years, the collaboration will bring a new level of scale to the #askMIT series. Beyond the improved production process and broader social media reach, this partnership is a unique chance for MIT to gain insights into social learning.

The MIT team will study Curiosity’s analytics to determine how online learners watch and interact with the #askMIT videos, how long they stay on each page, and how they engage with other viewers, among other variables. Researchers plan to compare this data with that of other video platforms like YouTube and the #askMIT page. The goal: better understand the way these online video communities influence how students learn.

The new partnership is a first-of-its-kind for the MIT+K12 Videos team. There is no financial arrangement; it is simply a collaboration that brings media and creative together to engage increasingly social learners. And while the long view is on research, in the short term it’s all about those curious kids and teenagers. As it turns out, #askMIT and Curiosity have complementary audiences, with young viewers that are drawn to exploration and discovery.

“The Curiosity platform, undoubtedly, attracts people who are inherently curious,” says Michael Burke, Head of Strategy and Partnerships at Curiosity. “Collaborating with MIT was a logical step for us – enabling our audience to ask questions and receive real answers from thought leaders in science, engineering, technology, and math fields. We’re excited to be working with the brilliant minds at MIT and look forward to inspiring our audience to get smarter about the world around them.”

Ready to get smarter about your world? Ask a teacher or parent to post your video on Facebook or Twitter with #askMIT, or email it to askmit@curiosity.com. Then watch and explore #askMIT on Curiosity.

Are you an undergrad interested in producing the #askMIT series? Email mitk12videos@mit.edu.