The list of 2020 movies that I saw, ranked by my preference from best down to worst.
For years, I have been a big fan of a number of great educational video channels on YouTube. Since others know this, they sometimes ask me what channels it is that I enjoy that they should check out. So here is a good list of those channels, with a bit of description for each and a handful of good sample videos for you to check each of them out. Each channel title will link to that channel’s full library of videos.
This is probably my favorite channel. Grey never appears on screen and does his videos through absolutely charming animation with his researched and scripted narration. His style is typically very high speed and essentially operates on the same frequency as my brain, and they are full of all sorts of random topics and fascinating material. He doesn’t release vids too frequently (a result of the research and animation time), but when he does they’re great. Grey is one of the two hosts of one of my favorite podcasts, Hello Internet.
I’ve been watching vids from Destin Sandlin’s magnificent channel for probably longer than any of the others on this list. Destin is a fantastically fun presenter. He’s one of those guys that any kid would be lucky to have as a teacher, and his Alabama southern goofball charm keeps things light and entertaining. He’s also spent years working on rockets and things like that. He presents fascinating stuff of all kinds of material. If you love the stuff on his primary channel, it’s worth checking out his second channel as well.
Tom Scott is one of my absolute favorite presenters and video producers. His videos cover a wide variety of subjects, often times from a wide range of places. He has a background in tech and programming and as a result he features videos like his series, The Basics. He has other series like one on language, Amazing Places, Things You Might Not Know and the very fun and silly game show with his friends, Citation Needed. Put simply, there’s an endless amount of fun and fascinating material on this channel.
Derek Muller is another excellent presenter who does a wide variety of excellent vids on his channel. This video is a fantastic rundown of Derek and his life story. Also, be sure to check out his magnificent 2-part feature-length documentary, Uranium: Twisting the Dragon’s Tail.
Sam Denby started the Wendover channel a bit more recently than most of the others on this list (roughly 4 years previous to the time of this writing in 2020). In those handful of years, it has rapidly become one of the best produced and researched channels out there. The airline industry and flying in general is a favorite topic of the channel and there are a good number of excellent videos on the subject to be found on the channel. Other topics are very well explored and presented as well.
Another channel from Sam Denby of Wendover Productions. This one is a little faster paced and more informal and amusing, but is still highly informative and well presented. It’s an easy channel to binge, due to the shorter video length, entertaining style and varied topics.
Ex-NASA engineer Mark Rober’s channel is full of awesome experiments, most of which had a pretty good amount of work put into them. He doesn’t make videos super frequently, but when he does they are usually quite a big hit with tons of views – rightfully so.
If you want to learn about how all sorts of technologies work, both modern and legacy, host Alec Watson does a great job breaking them down, explaining things and practically demonstrating how they work. He has featured many things over the ever-improving half-dozen years of the channel (at the time of this writing in 2020). And he adds in an ample amount of humor to keep things fun.
Rare Earth is one of the more interesting and intellectual of YouTube channels. It typically follows Evan Hadfield (son of the great Canadian astronaut, Chris Hadfield) as he travels the world and explores its history, culture, geography and all manner of other ideas. It’s one that likes to ask as many questions as it answers. It’s very well shot, very well written, very well presented and takes you to a great many interesting places. Often, the weekly episodes will explore a location or region in a series of subtopic episodes.
I’m cheating a little bit by including this channel on the list. It’s less of an “educational” channel than it is just general screwing around with stuff. But it is easily one of my favorite channels on YouTube, and not just the education type of channels. Plus, I think Gav & Dan provide enough educational and experimental kinds of material in their endless supply of videos for it to loosely qualify.
If you’re looking for an absolutely huge library of all kinds of information, look no further than SciShow. It’s one of the most constant and frequent of the YouTube education channels. As such, my selection of samples is almost kinda random. There’s just a massive amount of selection here to choose from. Also, check out their excellent SciSchow Space channel.
Steve Mould’s channel is part explainer and part experimentation. He’s a pretty decent presenter of the material, and he chooses some unusual ideas to play with. It’s not the most frequently updated of channels, but it usually quite good.
This channel has lots of fun factual videos on all kinds of random topics. It has a nice array of presenters and does a pretty good job at presenting the information. Their list videos are typically quite fun and interesting.
This huge project was started by the great brother team of John & Hank Green (been a fan of their vlogbrothers channel for more than a decade). Over the years this channel has grown to produce collections of videos on quite a few topics. I’ve watched through a fair number of the subjects. Unlike the others in this list, the title link above goes to the subject playlists and in the sample list below I’m linking to the playlist for a half dozen of my favorite subjects they’ve done.
This is another great channel if you’re interested in aviation (or other forms of travel like trains and ships). It features some excellent production quality and is pretty well presented. It’s a relatively newer channel compared to others on this list, and it tends to only post every couple months, but the videos are worth the watch.
If you’re looking for science fair experiment ideas, this channel surely has something to spark an idea. It features an absolutely massive collection of all kinds of experiments, some dangerous and some not.
Diana is an energetic and kinda goofy presenter, which gives this channel quite the personality and charm. As you might guess, it explores all kinds of topics related to physics and science in general.
Numberphile is shot and produced by prolific YouTube video maker, Brady Haran. Brady is the other co-host of the Hello Internet podcast I mentioned up on the CGP Grey entry. You should also check out his other educational YouTube channels: Computerphile, Periodic Videos, Objectivity, Sixty Symbols, and Deep Sky Videos (and others).
Emily Graslie, of Chicago’s Field Museum, presents all sorts of things, many related to items at The Field Museum. She’s a pretty good presenter and the material can be quite interesting.
This one is an eclectic mix of styles for presenting all kinds of stuff related to physics in short little bites of video presentation. It usually does a pretty good job of condensing odd or complicated ideas into basic enough form. If you like this channel, you will also like their MinuteEarth channel.
This channel typically uses amusingly simple marker-on-whiteboard styled illustrations. It explores a great many topics. It also tends to go after a lot of topics that tend to be controversial, or at the very least some level of taboo. If you watch enough videos from the channel, no matter who you are, I can almost guarantee you’ll hit one that strongly annoys you for whatever stance it takes on some controversial topic that happens to be the hill you would die on.
I’m putting this one at the end of the list not because it doesn’t have great content, because it does, but because it has been slowing in number of updates lately. Still, lots of great stuff to go back and dig through. Michael is a fun presenter and the material ranges in topic quite a lot. You can also check out Vsauce 2 as well as Vsauce 3.