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Behind the Scenes at MIT is a collection of short videos that feature MIT researchers explaining how a textbook chemistry topic is essential to their research and to an inspiring real-world application. The videos were produced by the Drennan Research and Education Laboratory as part of an Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Professors grant to Professor Cathy Drennan at MIT. The videos were created for MIT’s general chemistry course, 5.111 Principles of Chemical Science, and for other educators to bring the why and the who of chemistry research into introductory classes.

The science videos can be searched by chemistry topic (i.e. atomic theory, bonding, acid-base equilibrium) or by research application. A set of accompanying personal videos, one for each scientist featured, illustrates the journeys to becoming a scientist. Some of these videos highlight challenges that have been overcome, such as dealing with learning disabilities, growing up gay and intellectual in a conservative small town, and having to learn English in order to understand science class.

The goals in creating these videos were to bring the excitement of MIT research into the chemistry classroom and to illuminate both the why and the who of chemistry. These videos are intended to help motivate students to learn chemistry, inspire students to tackle important scientific problems in their future careers, and expose students to the many faces of chemistry.

The videos can be viewed online or downloaded for use in the classroom. Each science video is under three minutes, and the personal videos are three to five minutes in length. Teachers are welcome to use any or all of these videos in their classrooms. Video creation was funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) through an HHMI Professors Grant to Professor Cathy Drennan and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Unported License.