The Cassiopeia Project: Free Science Education Online
What a mysterious retired physicist has to do with the future of learning.
By Maria Popova
In 2008, The Cassiopeia Project began quietly publishing high-definition videos exploring in an intelligent yet digestible manner nearly every corner of the science spectrum, and releasing them online for free. With more than 100 videos to date available on iTunesU and YouTube, the project offers an invaluable resource on everything from quantum mechanics to evolution to the theory of relativity — another wonderful piece in the ever-expanding puzzle of free educational content online that is changing how we think about learning.
We believe that if you can visualize it, then understanding it is not far behind.”
The project, operating under the slogan “No science teacher left behind,” is funded by an adamantly anonymous retired scientist who, after weighing the benefits of helping academic institutions versus helping teachers, he chose the latter and made it his mission to champion science literacy in the US.
All the content is open-source and educators are encouraged to edit, remix and otherwise customize the footage. While all videos are self-contained, a companion sci-fi / romance novel, CounterClockWise, is used as a contextualizing plot vehicle to pique interest in the project.
The project is named after the Cassiopeia Constellation at the edge of the Milky Way, known for its wayfinding capcaity; once you find Cassiopeia, you can easily locate all other constellations in the Northern hemisphere — a beautiful metaphor for the illuminating mission of the project.
Sadly, the effort appears to be in stagnation since 2009, but we sincerely hope to see it resurface with more fantastic content. Meanwhile, explore the existing video library and appreciate the wonders of grassroots, web-enabled education.
Published November 9, 2010