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We Got MIT Scientists To Explain Their Climate Research To First Graders (HBO)

Here at the VICE News Tonight climate desk, we have a little trick for getting scientists to tell us about their work in clear and simple terms: We often ask them to explain their projects to us “as though we were first graders.”

There are a couple of reasons for this. One, dozens of complicated but important solutions to climate change are being researched all around the country, but scientists are notoriously bad at explaining their work to non-scientists. And two, that can make it harder to drum up interest in and support for these projects.

Here’s one example: A research group at MIT is looking at a way to turn plants into lights using solar energy. The method is called “plant nanobionics” and involves putting tiny little mechanical parts, a.k.a. nanostructures, into plants to make them able to do things they wouldn’t normally do, like produce light.

The hope is that these glowing plants could do more than bring us one step closer to living in a version of Avatar’s Pandora — they could also significantly help reduce greenhouse gas emissions from electrical lighting. Lighting currently accounts for about 20 percent of worldwide energy consumption and produces significant carbon emissions as well as e-waste.

It’s pretty cool, and the results could be a significant breakthrough. So to really understand it, we invited the scientists from the MIT lab to tell us about their work and how it might help solve climate change. The catch was they had to explain it to an actual group of first graders.

Watch the results and learn about plant nanobionics along with the first grade class of Brooke East Boston charter school:

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43 thoughts on “We Got MIT Scientists To Explain Their Climate Research To First Graders (HBO)

  1. WOW 1:28 there was an episode of SG-1 where a women known as "the destroyer of worlds", was the Alpha in a prison because she could make plants glow inside a cave. You have to love the teachers relation to the kids she relates so well. Now we are bringing in people who probably don't have kids and are kids themselves. lets see how they do. Actually a good video, i figured it was more flat earth propaganda since that is where i came across the link. Id wager these kids are smarter than most flat earthers. YOu have to love the idea of a car running on apple juice. That is not far from a car running on moonshine. Im subscribing.

  2. As someone who grew up in the Louisiana education system, these first graders are smarter than a lot of the kids graduating high school where I live. Hell a lot of college students where I live don't understand the difference between climate and weather.

  3. this is so funny! I've done similar activities with 3rd graders and man do they have the most interesting questions ever! lol
    And it can be quite challenging to explain a kid what is it that you're trying to do with science but it's so rewarding at the end of the day when you know you poke their curiosity for science and when you know that you just made science interesting and approachable to them. Kids are awesome scientists!

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