JLab’s YouTube Channel Attracts 100,000 Subscribers

In roughly six years, Jefferson Lab’s YouTube channel has attracted 100,000 subscribers and has been viewed more than 30 million times.

To celebrate this milestone, achieved on Feb. 8, Science Education posted an episode of Frostbite Theater, titled 100,000 Subscribers! (And some liquid nitrogen!).

To mark the event, Frostbite Theater hosts Steve Gagnon, Science Education administrator, and Joanna Griffin, Public Affairs graphic artist, froze a 100 Grand® candy bar.

Over the years, most of Jefferson Lab’s YouTube subscribers have tuned in for the long-running Frostbite Theater, which currently includes more than 70 episodes. Gagnon and Griffin have shared with their viewers a host of short, educational, hands-on science demonstrations and observational types of experiments ranging from cryogenics to general science. Each episode lasts less than five minutes. The content emphasizes the scientific method, and is usually geared toward middle school students.

“When possible, we try to relate topics to the work conducted at the lab, such as talking about the lab’s niobium cavities when we did a video about superconductivity,” Gagnon says.

“We have ready access to liquid nitrogen (-321 degrees Fahrenheit) so we freeze a lot of stuff,” Gagnon adds. They got a kick out of freezing the candy bar. “While we’ve frozen other kinds of candy before and we’ve measured the speed of light with chocolate, this was the first time we froze a candy bar.”

The latest episodes of Frostbite Theater, dubbed March Microscope Madness, have temporarily stepped away from the frosty effects of liquid nitrogen. Each Monday in March, the team is putting three items underneath the magnifying lens. They share with their viewers the resulting images and the amount each has been magnified. Viewers are encouraged to post their guesses. The following Monday, the mystery images are identified and three new images are presented.

In addition to Frostbite Theater, the Jefferson Lab YouTube channel includes the recording of a Physics Fest, a Google hangout (virtual field trip that includes visiting a portion of the lab’s accelerator tunnel, computer center, and an experimental hall), videos that explain the research conducted at Jefferson Lab, a physics video glossary called “Physics Out Loud” and the archive of recorded Science Series lectures – public talks presented at the lab over several years.

“We’ve had a lot of fun doing this over the years,” says Griffin. “And, it was flattering to be recognized at a National Science Teachers Association event.”

Gagnon and Griffin are always happy to field questions from students, and suggestions for future episodes. “We can’t do everything, but we love to hear your ideas and suggestions,” Griffin said.