Chemical Anthropomorphism: Acting Out General Chemistry Concepts in Social Media Videos Facilitates Student-Centered Learning and Public Engagement
This Article describes the educational and public engagement outcomes of an activity called the “ChemClout Challenge” that was implemented in a general chemistry course at UC Riverside. Students worked in groups to make chemistry-themed videos, posted them to social media platforms, then voted on their favorite videos. The majority of students elected to make videos where they anthropomorphized general chemistry concepts, physically acting out principles such as ideal gas law relationships and electrolyte solubility. Students reported enjoying these anthropomorphized videos most. These types of videos received over one million views worldwide within the first month of posting on the social media platform, TikTok. After the course was over, 75 students completed voluntary Likert scale surveys to assess the educational and outreach impact of the ChemClout Challenge. 88% of students reported that the activity made chemistry more relatable, whereas 76% of students noted that the activity helped them retain course concepts two months after the course was completed, indicating the activity benefitted student learning. Moreover, 84% of students reported that their friends and family members outside of UC Riverside watched the videos, with 72% of students reporting that they explained the chemical concepts of their videos to their friends. These studies indicate that student-created social media videos that anthropomorphize chemistry are highly effective vectors for student-centered learning and public engagement in chemical concepts. This activity may find particular utility for educators during the COVID-19 pandemic, as it is compatible with distance learning.