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YouTube channel with physics for teenagers reaches 1 million views

On 24 October, the YouTube channel by Ralph Meulenbroeks reached the magic number of one million views. In his videos, the Associate Professor from Utrecht University explains complicated principles of physics so that anyone can understand them. The target group is secondary school physics students, and the channel has proven to be extremely popular among them.

“Vlak voor het eindexamen heeft het kanaal bijna 20.000 hits per dag”

Ralph Meulenbroeks voor het lightboard in het Teaching & Learning Lab

Complicated concepts

“Which of the 100 videos on the channel has the most views? That’s the one about Electricity and Voltage”, Meulenbroeks answers enthusiastically. “To many young people, those are complicated concepts that are also hard to tell apart, I’ve noticed. But that also applies to many teachers, and to myself”, he adds with a laugh.

Helping students

Meulenbroeks started producing the videos in 2015, after he stopped working as a physics teacher at a secondary school in Bilthoven. “The students I left behind had to continue with the class the next year, and I wanted to do something for the kids”, he says. “So I decided to produce videos about the material they would be studying that year. It started out really amateurish, with a tiny whiteboard. Later on, I recorded them using the lightboard in the studio at the Teaching & Learning Lab.”

Wildfire

Once the first 20 videos were done, he could start promoting the channel. But that turned out to be easier than he could have imagined. “I sent three of my former students an e-mail with a link; that was it. Without lifting another finger, three years later the channel had more than a million views”, says Meulenbroeks with astonishment. “With 40,000 regular visitors, and a peak of almost 20,000 visitors on the evening before the final exam for Physics.”

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Verloop van het aantal bezoekers sinds de start van het YouTube-kanaal

The secret

Meulenbroeks can only guess as to why his videos are so popular among secondary school students. “It’s definitely not the form, because I just stand in front of a whiteboard talking about physics. But I am a naturally enthusiastic storyteller, and I really enjoy explaining things”, he says. “I’ve also noticed that you can’t skip a single step in your explanation. If you assume that the students already know something, then there will always be a few who don’t. And then they lose track of what we’re talking about.”

New videos

The YouTube channel currently deals with all of the material taught in Physics classes for senior secondary vocational education and university preparatory education. But Meulenbroeks isn’t planning on stopping. “Now I’m working on a series about the elective course for Relativity Theory. That’s a very difficult concept. I’m also working on videos for courses intended for teachers in training”, he says; “Together with another teacher. I play the student, and he plays the teacher. It’s really fun to do. What can I say: I also just like being in the spotlight.”