Creating Videos To Teach Neuroscience

Intern working on computer to create video

Creating videos that teach complex topics like how neurons fire is a challenge for content creators. That’s one project that Oberlin College intern Carlos Armstrong faced when working with Nancy Darling on 1step2life – and app designed to help teens living with chronic pain get out of bed and take back their lives.

After doing research from a range of sources to find the most accurate information, we need to ask ourselves one key question:

What do our users need to know?

What teens and parents living with chronic pain are interested in is very different than the kind of information needed by a neuroscience student. After we do our research, then comes hard the part – writing clear accurate descriptions using words that everyone understands. Over and over again we ran into the same problem.

“The terminal axis releases neurotransmitters.”
“What’s a terminal axis?”
“What’s a neurotransmitter?”

“Can you tell what is what in this picture?

Spelling out the basics clearly so viewers would feel smart and interested rather than confused or talked down to was a challenge. It also taught us a lot, because it made us really dig into details that we’d just glossed over before. Both Nancy and Carlos finished our writing sessions knowing a lot more about about how action potential work than we did when we started. And a lot more about good scientific writing. icate.

Then came the drawings, simple animations, and sequencing. Laying out ideas in the right order in clear, accurate words was a great exercise in how to write well. It’s always harder to express complex ideas in fewer words than more!

Script done! Animation done! Next steps: Voicing and final editing.