How this science teacher's MaChemGuy YouTube channel is helping pupils during the lockdown

A science teacher has come up with a formula to make sure students don’t miss out because of the coronavirus lockdown.

Thursday, 23rd April 2020, 4:45 pm
Updated Sunday, 26th April 2020, 5:25 pm

Hartlepool Sixth Form College chemistry teacher James Donkin, from Sunderland, has been using his computer skills to continue to interact with students despite the college being closed.

He has been using his YouTube channel called MaChemGuy, which has 22,000 subscribers worldwide, and other technology to adapt to the unprecedented situation.

James, who was shortlisted for the Teacher of the Year award at the 2020 TES FE Awards, started the channel in 2013 as a resource for his A-level chemistry students.

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Hartlepool 6th Form College science lecturer James Donkin in his lab . Picture by FRANK REID

But his videos have been watched over 4.8 million times by viewers in 129 countries.

The channel has proved especially useful during the lockdown saying: “In terms of the way I’m having to teach now, it is broadly similar to pre-lockdown, as the technology is enabling me to deliver the content as I would have at sixth form.

“The only difference is that I’m unable to do practical work. I do, however, have videos for all the practical techniques, which are not the same as doing them in the classroom, but better than learning about them via a textbook.”

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Hartlepool Sixth Form College science teacher James Donkin using Google Meet.

James, who lives in Roker, has also been using Google Meet and Google Classroom which allows students to send him work to mark and return with feedback.

“Google Classroom really has made the transition to remote working very smooth and meant that the students feel they are not missing out,” he added.

“Students have said during the live video lessons that they have adapted better than they had expected and although it’s more work for them, they much prefer the way they are working to following topics via a textbook.”

James has also been using his channel to support school leavers planning to study at the sixth form in September by creating a playlist of videos and posting new ones to help them get a head start.

Mark Hughes, Head of Hartlepool Sixth Form, said: “We are immensely proud of James and his inspiring teaching methods. He continually pushes the boundaries to improve student outcomes.”

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