BRADENTON -- After struggling to understand the concept of thermodynamics through his advanced placement chemistry textbook, Saint Stephen's Episcopal School student Jakob Hamilton turned to Paul Andersen's online videos to help him master the subject.
"It made everything a lot easier to understand," Hamilton told Andersen as they met in a small group Tuesday at Saint Stephen's where Andersen spent the day talking to students and staff.
Andersen has been making and uploading videos for five years or so. His videos, which have garnered attention across the globe, break down science subjects for school students.
He has been teaching high school science for the last nineteen years and teaching science on YouTube for the last three years. Paul spent the first seven years teaching all of the science classes at a small rural school in northern Montana. Andersen, 44, is a science teacher and technology specialist at Bozeman High School.
Andersen, 2011 National Teacher of the Year finalist and a YouTube education guru, met with students and faculty to talk about science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics as part of the school's S4 Speaker Series.
Chi Klein, an academic dean at the school, said he met Andersen at a STEAM leadership conference in Montana. Klein, who also teaches advanced placement biology, said adding the arts into the science, technology, engineering and mathematics concept helps foster innovation and creativity.
"You need to have some experi
ence with that creative part of yourself," Klein said.
During his visit to Saint Stephen's, Andersen conducted experiments with younger students, including a dry-ice experiment and a tower-building contest. Andersen spoke with some older students and teachers on campus as well.
Andersen talked with a group of six AP biology students, including Hamilton, about their futures. The seniors have all applied to colleges and are now eagerly awaiting the decisions. They also talked about the benefits of small classes -- the AP biology class at Saint Stephen's has seven students.
"That's got to be such a luxury," Andersen said.
Andersen said he works at a public high school with more than 2,000 students and often teaches more than one section of AP biology.
Andersen said he began creating videos to help students fill in the gaps and master tougher subjects at home. He started posting them on the school website and was then encouraged to put them on YouTube by a friend.
"It kind of snowballed from there," he said.
Since joining YouTube in 2009, Andersen has amassed more than 29 million views and 257,000 subscribers.
Andersen is the third of four Saint Stephen's speakers in the School's S4 Speaker Series. Previous speakers this year included futurist David Houle and 2010 graduate James Kernan.
In March, Saint Stephen's will host Tim Howard, the goalkeeper who was a sensation in last summer's World Cup for the U.S. National Soccer Team and is now keeping goal for the English Club Everton.
Meghin Delaney, education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081. Follow her on Twitter @MeghinDelaney.