Cal Academy teams with Khan Academy for online lessons

The California Academy of Sciences has teamed up with the Khan Academy to teach scientific lessons online.
January 24, 2014 12:00:00 AM PST
Marine biologist Rich Mooi, with the California Academy of Sciences, travels all over the world searching for new species and documenting the huge diversity of life on earth. The discoveries he and other biologists have made are the core of the collection at the Academy's museum in Golden Gate Park. A million and a half people visit the museum every year, including many who work at Khan Academy in Mountain View.

James Tynan with the Khan Academy said, "I think you'd be hard pressed to find a person here who hasn't gone in to see the enormous T-Rex that they have there and experience some of their fantastic exhibits."

Khan Academy is a non-profit start-up that creates short instructional videos, articles and interactive problem questions and provides them free online.

The lessons cover a range of subjects, from algebra to art history, aimed at all ages. They're being used in schools, libraries, homes -- any place with a computer. Their popularity is exploding. Tynan told us, "This time last year about 5 million people were using Khan Academy every month. This year it's at 10 million people."

There is so much demand, Khan is now partnering with other institutions, including Stanford and MIT, to create more online lessons. Most recently, they asked the California Academy of Sciences to join the team. Rich Mooi couldn't wait to get started. He said the two academies are a wonderful match.

In addition to being a top scientist, Mooi is also a highly skilled doodler, and a great story teller -- the perfect combination to create catchy content with a purpose. Mooi said he aims "to make [the video lessons] short, sweet, engaging, but above all scientifically informative." He and his team are creating seven comprehensive lessons on biodiversity and why it matters.

Mooi provides the scientific knowledge, the illustrations and the voice. The videos look like cartoons, but they are serious scientific presentations, aimed at high school aged students and adults.

Meg Burke, the California Academy of Sciences Education Director said, "Being online means that if somebody hears Rich say something in a video and they don't quite get what he was saying, they can hit pause, they can rewind."

There are also resources on the site to answer questions, test your knowledge, and guide teachers. Khan Academy is planning tutorials in other languages soon, with the hope that someday, this kind of high quality online lesson will be available everywhere.

The California Academy of Sciences lessons will be available starting next Tuesday. The regular Khan Academy lessons are online now.

Khan Academy
California Academy of Sciences

Written and produced by Jennifer Olney


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