Video about Evolution – for children?

Aug 22, 2013

Discussion by: PhilippDettmer

Hi there.

I'm working on free scientific videos for young people and am looking for qualified feedback.

As my bachelors thesis in information design I made a video explaining evolution in ten minutes, especially the mechanisms that drive evolution forward.

Since evolution can be hard to explain to kids I would love your opinion on the video. Is it to complicated for children? I would like to make more free videos for educators, that make complicated topics simple.

Unfortunately I have no idea how to embed a video on this forum, so I hope it's ok to post a link.



15 comments on “Video about Evolution – for children?

  • Hi Phillip

    I think this is a great video, the modern graphics and characters will appeal to children. I believe children are capable of understanding evolution from a young age but being able to explain it well is the tricky part!
    My son learnt about evolution at school when he was 12 years old and I feel your video would be appropriate for this age and older, the language you have used would not be suitable for younger children ( I have taught younger children and now teach young adults, some of whom would struggle with the vocabulary).
    I think it’s a difficult concept to teach and you have done a great job here, I like the summaries and clear explanations, the presentation is excellent and I can see children really enjoying learning thought this as it’s quite ‘cool’.
    My only negative comment would be to advise to omit the characters mating, the only reason for this is it will cause children to dissolve into fits of laughter and their attention will be lost!

    I hope my comments help somewhat, best of luck


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  • 2
    DocWebster says:

    Excellent video, I think the mating part is a good tension reliever so long as there’s a pause to say to the kids “Save your giggles for after the show we have more important things to discuss at the moment”. The kids will remember the video in much greater detail for the discussion that the mating scene and the cute little corpses will cause.I know that occasionally getting to view something humorous and slightly scandalous in a school lecture made me pay more attention to the subject at hand.

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  • This would be a better video if they dropped the word “creature” and used “animal” or “living organism” instead. The word “creature” is left over from a time before the knowledge of evolution, when each was thought to be an instance of divine creation. There are true creatures, today, such as artificial life, but not in natural life that has evolved. Also, evolution does not “create” species (nor “want” any), those emerge from the process. No creation, without a creator.

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  • Plus: I think it’s great that you call genes carriers of information and focus on the “occupant” of the “vehicle” rather than ATGC.


    Thank you for sharing your project. I very much enjoyed it.


    *Edited out, but I am suspicious there is something not clear about how your cancer/mutation section is discussed. I am likely at fault for the concern and will think about it some more and repost something clearer if it comes to me. :-j

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  • I would tackle the question of how for example a fish might grow a longer tail before tackling the much subtler problem of how do new species form. I suspect that is as far as you need to go with younger kids.

    The narrator has an almost Hitchhiker way of speaking which should be good for grabbing attention.

    There was a lot of swirling, particularly a sequence with little tongues, that was just distracting from the narrative.

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  • I think you need a sentence about a tiny complete copy of your DNA being in every cell. I got the impression from the video it was some abstract quality of a being, like having a soul.

    I have a feeling “tell them what you are going to tell them, tell, them, tell them what you told them” will tend to put kids off. Just tell the story. To a kid, it is just padding that slows down the story. Notice that professional stuff for kids never does this.

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  • Blue eyes are not a random mutation. They are a recessive gene that manifest only when the individual is pure in that gene.

    They might have been a random mutation eons ago, but it is misleading to tell kids every blue eyed kid is a freak.

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  • One thing very good about this video is it demonstrates natural selection by various traits, rather than just talking about it in the abstract. It is a very persuasive argument and easy to understand. I might be what is needed to crack some creationists who oppose evolution because they don’t understand it.

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  • I think you might like to say something like this to head off the creationists.
    1. you need all N factors or you won’t get evolution.
    2. Some uninformed people are under the delusion you only need one, and are naturally then puzzled how it could possibly work. Commonly they leave out natural selection which is anything but random and the secret of why animals sometimes seem to be designed to suit their environments.

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  • When you talk about mutations, say “DNA spontaneously and randomly changes”. You want to make sure you don’t give the idea a mutation is something a body does intentionally as a sort of conscious problem solving.

    The problem is these kids are not necessary coming in tabla rasa. They have been twisted in various ways by creationists.

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  • 14
    QuestioningKat says:

    Ahhh, Cute characters! Even the skulls with bugs! As a former girl, I can tell you that I would have loved loved loved them. I think this is ideal for kids around 12 or 13 but can be shown to kids aged 11-16. The overall look of this video is very current and will have definite appeal to a younger audience.

    A few notes:
    Reconsider your type and your video opening. Your intro/title was weak and cold — “Mechanics of Evolution” (Make it a subtitle or lose it.) Then “what is evolution?” At first I thought “yuk” it’s one of “those” videos (ugly, technical, regiment, boring… Certainly the bad type led me to anticipate this.) then I was pleasantly surprised. You somehow need to tie in the graphics and title to have a stronger opening. Check out old cartoons, speak to a few graphics majors, etc. Slapping on BIG bold type at the beginning of a video is just that – slapping on big bold type. CAN IT BE ANY BIGGER? (woof!) Overall, the type selection and usage is weak. It’s less noticeable throughout the video, but starts off honking bad.

    aprx 1:17 to 1:25 super cute

    Vererbung (?)

    4:14 – 4:18 I realize you were having a bit of fun here with the added sound effects and black block too, but it will take two minutes to calm students down and refocus. One person here thought the humor added fun. Take the lead from stand up comics, you need to provide time for the laughing to subside and then add some sort of attention grabber to get them back on track otherwise everything you say for a certain amount of time afterwards will be lost. Do you really have an extra minute to waste on this video? Save an unedited version with it for your own fun. Lose it for classroom use.

    9:39 on Illustration of Finches – I think illustrations such as these are highly effective. This whole section on Darwin Finches could be a short utube video in itself. I think it is the strongest section of the video ( though I still love those cuties – very on trend too!)

    I think a couple of the sections in which the groups of characters were popping in and dying off were somewhat redundant causing me to slightly daydream away. Perhaps this could be tightened up a bit.

    pluses – narrator has a nice voice, illustrations are on trend and relevant, excellent section on finches, fairly easy to follow. With a little tweaking this could go from a very good video to great.

    minuses – poor opening and type usage, content jumps a bit

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  • 15
    PhilippDettmer says:

    Hi everyone, sorry it took me so long to reply.

    Thank you so much for your feedback! It was really helpful. Since the video has (I don’t know why I didn’t anticipate this) triggert a science vs god dabate on youtube, i’m thinking about making a new video that refuses creationist claims. I will definately include your feedback in this. Also, I will start working on a version of the video more suited for kids.

    Back to your feedback. What I took from it so far:

    • creature is a wrong word in the context of evolution and should not be used if possible (in german, which is my native language, this is no problem, so good to know…)

    • If possible there should be examples for specific traits evolving (like giraffes necks for example?)

    • Less swirling 😉

    • Dachshund and great dane is a translation error, shame on me…

    • @Roedy: “tell them what you are going to tell them, tell, them, tell them what you told them”?
      Sorry, I dont get that, could you explain what you mean by this? Also, what are N factors?

    • I should highlight the randomness of DNA changes by mutation.

    • The typography is ugly and should be overhauled.

    • And following the sex scene, there should be a break, so the children can calm down.

    Thank you again for your feedback and comments, it was really helpful 🙂

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