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STEM Mentor Voices

Summer 2020

STEMflix: Fun Science Shows and Channels to Binge While Avoiding Covid

By Emmett Warmbrand, STEM Peer Mentor 

Hello again everybody, I'm back for another article and this time it is going to be a fun one. The last write up I did was on ways to survive isolation, so in keeping with that theme, I did some scrounging for some STEM-oriented media to watch over the quarantine break. 

I figure almost 90% of the people reading this will have Netflix, so most of these will be on Netflix and I will make painfully clear what things are actually available on. I will give a brief description about what the show is and why it counts as STEM media. Some will have more qualifications than others, but what the heck, they are all fun sciency stuff. So without further ado…  Here are the best (in my opinion) STEM media to watch during quarantine. 

Things on Netflix:

  • Explained (TV-MA)
    • This series is very self-explanatory in its title. If you haven't seen it pop up in your recommended feed, it is a docuseries that takes each thirty minute-ish episode to discuss a topic. In the first season the topics ranged from the concept of monogamy (married couples), gene editing, K-pop and the racial wealth gap to name a few. These topics are all examined from all angles and especially from a scientific point of view. This series has some spinoffs and there is currently an Explained miniseries on coronavirus so that is very timely. If you don’t like a topic there are two seasons worth of fantastic topics.  
  • Night on Earth  (TV-PG)
    • There is a metric ton of great animal documentaries on Netflix for all your biological niche needs. The BBC Earth series is arguably the greatest of all time. This one caught my attention because the technology used to capture the video is amazing. These are hyper light sensitive cameras that absorb light on a massive scale. The show goes into more specifics that I can’t do justice at the moment. Being a psychology major I have come to appreciate how the brain collects and processes the world around us and light is a major part of that. 
  • Bill Nye Saves the World (TV-14)
    • Bill Nye makes his triumphant return to popular culture thanks to this Netflix series. He covers many potential risks to humanity and the Earth. Global warming is just the tip of this melting iceberg. 

I need to preface these next few picks with one simple statement. I love anime I am biased and desensitized to the shenanigans that come up. With that out of the way I can guarantee that these are science forward. I hope that any of you who haven't watched anime before gives these a try because they are well worth the time if you enjoy science. Also, I need to clarify some terminology. When I refer to something as dub/dubbed that means that the voice acting is in English. If something is sub/subbed, then that means that the voice acting is in Japanese and it will have English subtitles. Some people like the original Japanese voice acting and do not mind the reading and some people don’t want the extra effort. I do not judge and thankfully for everyone I picked shows that are subbed and dubbed.

One final point, these shows are hosted on paid subscription services like Netflix and while I would love for all of you who read this to pay for these services and become anime fans… That is not going to happen. These services have free trial periods, so free viewing is possible that way.

Animé offerings:

  • Cells at Work (TV-PG) (On Netflix in English dub and Japanese sub)
    • This is a pretty standard workplace drama and/or slice of life when you break it down. Our cast of colorful characters are different cells within a human body that are anthropomorphized. Through the metaphor of a workplace, the show demonstrates how the internal functions of the human body work. For example, red blood cells are couriers that deliver packages and white blood cells are scary intense security guards that protect the red blood cells from monsters. It is a very medically accurate breakdown of the cells in our body at work.    
  • Dr. Stone (TV-14) (On Crunchyroll subbed and FUNimation dubbed)
    • After a global catastrophe that turned every human being on earth into a stone statue, our protagonist Senku breaks free of his stone prison 3700 years in the future. The world he discovers has been retaken by nature and there is no human technology or infrastructure left. Senku’s number one goal is to survive this new stone age using his scientific knowledge so that he can one day revive the rest of humanity from its petrified state. Being a natural genius, he uses his mastery of scientific disciplines, like chemistry and physics, to overcome anything in his way.    
  • Science Fell in Love and I Tried to Prove it (TV-14) (On Crunchyroll subbed and dubbed)
    • This is another workplace comedy/romance but in a research lab. Two postgraduate students who work in a university research lab have developed feelings for each other. The catch here is that these two want to scientifically prove what love is, in order for these two to accept that love is more than just chemical imbalances and neurotransmitters. Their incredibly awkward approach to falling in love is endearing and the suffering that they put their peers through is hysterical. 

My last two recommendations are not shows but YouTube channels I watch quite often. They are informative and thought provoking.  

Bonus YouTube Round: 

  • Wisecrack
    • This channel is all about philosophy and its relevance to modern day. This is not philosophy in the classical sense but more of a way to think about modern day issues as well as to dissect media for deeper meaning. They did a wonderful breakdown on the reasoning behind conspiracies as well as flat earthers. Their content is the inspiration for the next article I'm going to write. They also talk about movies and tv to find their deeper meaning. If you like to think critically and ponder what goes on in the world, this is the channel for you. 
  • Zefrank1
    • What started as a guy putting on a Morgan Freeman impression while narrating homemade animal documentary clips has evolved into my favorite way to learn new things. His True Facts series is one of the highlights of my day. The man referred to the mantis shrimp as the murderous psychopathic clown of the ocean with a punch that rivals a Mortal Kombat finishing move ALL THE WHILE DOING A MORGAN FREEMAN IMPRESSION. That is just one joke I can recall off the top of my head. Do yourself a favor and look this one up and thank me later.