Understanding science via videos – View the results from the science video course 

The science video course on the Kumpula Campus yielded excellent pieces, and the Finnish Broadcasting Company is interested. Professional video training will also be available to researchers in the future.

 “What do you actually do as a doctoral student?” was a question Markus Juvonen heard often from his friends and relatives. The question was so popular that Juvonen decided to join forces with Francesca Scarabel and answer it with a video. Their video features both hard facts about their field and the everyday challenges of working in science.

“After seeing the video, my mother said that she finally understands what I do as a doctoral student,” Juvonen says.

In May, Juvonen and Scarabel’s hard work was rewarded when their video was chosen as the best in the course by experts from the Finnish Broadcasting Company’s science department Yle Tiede at the final gala of the course How to make a science video. According to the Yle experts, the defining feature of the video was that it worked on two levels: the facts and the images told different stories. They also praised the video’s careful planning and solid camerawork. See for yourself what real life as a doctoral student is like! 

Preparation saves time later

During the past few years, videos have become an increasingly popular communication medium, and they are also an efficient way to communicate about science, particularly to a younger age group. This motivated Samuli Siltanen, professor of industrial mathematics, to start planning a science video course for doctoral and teacher students together with Maija Aksela, head of science education

University teachers were joined by TV professionals to better explain what makes a good video.

 “Young people today turn primarily to the internet, not books, for their entertainment and information. Consequently, we should also communicate about science online, and a video is an entertaining and powerful form of expression. But only if they’re well done. If the video is boring and overly long, the audience will just want to run away,” says Siltanen.

In the course, university teachers were joined by TV professionals to better explain what makes a good video. Both Scarabel and Juvonen, who had some previous camera experience, learned a great deal about making videos in the course. 

The course also provided a break from research – even though Scarabel says the experience was no holiday.

“It took us a full work week to make the video. We spent a lot of time on preparations, as it speeded up the shoot so we didn’t waste our extras’ time during filming.” 

Juvonen and Scarabel’s video also feature acted scenes, which meant that they could also practice their directing skills. This turned out to be perhaps the most challenging part of the project.

“I would go film a coffee break and ask everyone to act natural. But everyone froze as soon as I turned the camera on! I started to carry the camera with me all the time so that we would get good material for the video,” Juvonen explains.

More to come

All in all, six different science videos were produced during the course. The videos have been published on the YouTube channel of the Faculty of Science

Yle Tiede is also keen to continue the cooperation and is interested in working on the videos that were made in the course. 

Both the organisers and the participants were very pleased with the course, so there is likely to be more to come. Yle Tiede is also keen to continue the cooperation and is interested in working on the videos that were made in the course. 

“I was delighted to see these young scientists making such rich short films. I had high expectations in the first place, but the end result was still impressive,” says Siltanen.

Text: Tiina Palomäki

Image: Susan Heikkinen 

How to make a science video course

The course How to make a science video was organised by the Faculty of Science and the Science Education Centre, where the University of Helsinki’s doctoral and teacher students received professional guidance to explain their research in videos.

The intention is to organise the course again next year.