Biodiversity researchers produce a video series for schoolkids

Finland is one of the leading countries in environmental change research, and when you are talking about the future of the world, the most important audience for our research results is schoolchildren. Scientists at the Research Centre for Ecological Change (REC) at the University of Helsinki decided to disseminate scientific knowledge directly to schools with short videos.

The result is a series of ten short videos about environmental change and biodiversity. The episodes cover what biodiversity is, who benefits from it, who studies it, how they study it, what threatens it and what we can do about these threats. These general topics are developed further by looking more closely at examples such as dung beetles and microbes.

The content of the videos was brainstormed together with teachers in order to come up with a format that would suit the target audience. At the same time the aim was to come up with a solution that would be useful as part of the new curriculum, where teachers are more free to choose digital teaching materials for themselves. There is a shortage of high quality – and short – teaching materials in Finnish.

The duration of each video is between three and five minutes. The series is constructed so that each episode works both on its own and as part of a thematic arc. Although the series emphasises the seriousness and large scope of the problems, the videos also give some ideas of what we can do to make things better. The videos also have English subtitles, with Swedish coming soon.

This was a project by a team of Finnish ecology researchers and young postdoctoral researchers.

“Well, it was certainly one of the most rewarding projects of my career,” says one of the project leaders, professor Tomas Roslin. “This target audience is the most important in the world, and at the same time the most challenging. What am I studying the future of the environment for, if not to tell the generation of the future about it?”

“It was fun working with researchers,” says Antti Sipilä, the CEO of OneMinStory, the production company that made the videos. “We shot one professor with his fingers in cow dung and another peering at a butterfly she had just caught, and they were all able to connect their research subject to the wider challenges facing our environment. I firmly believe that many schoolkids will be inspired by this to take a wider look at the world. Most importantly, I believe it will open their eyes to how we can study the world and how we learn new things.”

The project was funded by the Maj and Tor Nessling Foundation.

“This is science communication at its best,” says foundation research director Minttu Jaakkola. “Who better to communicate about science than researchers? They have the best knowledge of their subject, the conversation around it and the way that new information is generated. I hope this project will also inspire other researchers!”

Video series on YouTube

Research Centre for Ecological Change

More information

Project coordinator Bess, tel. 050 3112568

Project leader, professor Tomas Roslin,, tel. 040 595 8098