Page last updated at 13:51 GMT, Monday, 1 December 2008

YouTube videos to ignite science

Test tube
The videos are intended to change perceptions that science is "dull"

Screaming Jelly Babies and exploding puddings are being used to attract more recruits into science teaching.

These action-packed experiments are attempts to persuade the public that science is not a boring subject.

England's Training and Development Agency for Schools says 72% of people in an ICM poll thought science "dull".

In an image make-over to make the subject more appealing, the agency has put videos of five explosive experiments onto the YouTube website.

Deploying the science teacher's most exciting weapon - blowing things up - the videos from the teacher recruitment agency show a fireball made out of Instant Whip pudding and the prolonged, fiery, chemical demise of a "screaming Jelly Baby".

Image change

There are appropriate safety warnings about protective clothing and supervision, but there is no mistaking the crowd-pulling appeal of something going bang.

Also in this series is the chance to watch a pumping amplified bass line creating spikes in some kind of fluid left on top of a speaker and a way to make banknotes fireproof.

This is the latest bid for science to rip off its anorak and draw in a wider audience - with the aim of overcoming the negative image suggested by the TDA poll.

This found that adults perceived science teaching as unenjoyable (83%), outdated (84%) and dull (72%).

The teacher training agency says that there are currently 3,670 trainee science teachers - helped by what has been growing interest in teaching as a profession.

The YouTube approach, with experiments filmed in real schools in a low quality home video style, shows a more dramatic image.

There is a growing genre of highly visual science experiments on such video sharing websites.

Among the classics are the explosive results of some sweets stuffed into fizzy drinks - such as Mentos mints in Coke - and "bottle rockets" created by pressurising plastic drinks containers.

These controlled moments of science drama are less alarming than another online speciality - science lessons that have gone wrong.

Here a variety of embarrassed science teachers are left looking anxiously at pieces of equipment that have exploded in unintended ways.

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