Math can sometimes – okay, often times – be hard to explain. It’s just the way it is; certain concepts are hard to understand, and then when someone explains it just right, it clicks, and then you understand it. But even better, when you don’t even realize the concept you are learning is supposed to be hard to understand, and then when you look back upon what you have learned and think about how you used to think that was complex and hard. Those are two great ways some attempt to explain mathematics, but there is one final way: doing it through entertainment. While the content itself may not be too complex, the learning is very entertaining, meaning the audience will watch more and be more involved. This is the route YouTuber Vi Hart took, a creator making math-based educational videos since 2009.
Vi Hart has, over the years, created her own unique way of explaining mathematics, one that has attracted an audience of over 940,000 subscribers and 71 million views. Rather than complex animations, or even just her talking in front of a camera, Vi Hart simply talks over a sped-up video of her drawing in a spiral notebook with usually brightly colored highlighters. It somehow works, her drawings very entertaining by themselves. With Vi Hart’s vast knowledge of math, a dash of humor, and great drawings/explanations, her videos turn out to be surprisingly fun and informative.
To give you an example, the video above is Vi Hart’s most popular video, with 6 million views, on the amazingness of a little thing called a “hexaflexagon”. If you don’t know what a hexaflexagon is, it’s basically a carefully folded hexagon made of paper, except rather than just having two sides it has three, or sometimes even six. It’s okay if that doesn’t make any sense, just watch the video and it’ll all “click”, as I said above. And if you like that video you should watch her second video in the series, in which the idea of hexaflexagons becomes much more mathematically complex and interesting, including a little cameo from a young Richard Feynman.
Aside from being a great way to explain to someone what a hexaflexagon is, Vi Hart’s two videos are both entertaining, educational, and very fascinating. As are all of her videos, from her videos on infinities to her annual video commemorating Pi Day. Whereas channels like Numberphile teach you hardcore math (in an interesting way), Vi Hart is the more, say, lighthearted of the math channels on YouTube, teaching us complex math in a fun and surprisingly entertaining way.