Teacher's online tutorials have the right chemistry as his videos get one million views

A teacher has proven he has the right chemistry after becoming an internet sensation.

Tuesday, 3rd May 2016, 8:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 4th May 2016, 2:12 pm
James Donkin working in his lab.

Hartlepool Sixth Form College teacher James Donkin has racked up more than one million YouTube hits for his helpful tutorials.

James, from Roker, Sunderland – whose online guise is MaChemGuy – began posting the videos to help navigate his A-level chemistry students through some of the subject’s most tricky areas.

The dad-of-three said: “It took two years to reach half a million views, which happened back in November, then it took just another five months to break the one million views barrier.

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“Similarly, my subscribers have doubled to just under 6,000 in the past five months along. Over four million minutes of my Mackem accent has been heard to date.”

James’ videos cover the likes of enthalpy changes, reaction mechanisms, shapes of molecules and other areas of the subject that can be particularly difficult to grasp.

The 46-year-old, who has been teaching for 23 years, said: “I presented a workshop in January at the 2016 national conference of the Association for Science Education. To around 30 teachers from the UK and further afield, I shared my YouTube journey, telling them about the creation and use of videos in my own teaching and how it has impacted positively with both my own students at the college and the many more I don’t even know. Videos are having a positive impact on students at the college.

“They tell me that they love the fact that when they turn up to a chemistry lesson they already know what the topic is all about and feel that they get so much more out of lessons as a result. Our in-house assessments have shown a noticeable improvement in student performance but we won’t know the true impact the videos have had until the results are here in August.”

James has also started creating tutorials at GCSE level. He said: “To help my own daughter with her forthcoming GCSE exams I’ve made some revision videos for her least favourite topics and shared them on YouTube too. I was delighted when the channel was recommended by her school recently as a revision resource to all of the Year 11 students.”

Some of James’ videos have more than 2,000 comments from people thanking him for his help.