Literature and Biochemistry Educational Videos

Chaucer was Poisoned!

Professor Steve Oster from the Chemistry/Biochemistry department proposed this project in June of 2016. His proposal was to use literature, particularly medieval literature, to teach chemistry. He used the stories of Chaucer’s poisoning and King Arthur’s death as a segue to teach his students. My function in this project was to transform his scripts into short three-minute educational videos. The goal was to make them educational while also being entertaining.


Aromas of Avalon – Science-y part where I had no idea what I was saying.

In making the videos, I found a lot of inspiration in a few YouTube channels I watch frequently. Mainly, I used many techniques from “GameTheory” and “FilmTheory” videos that make those videos easy to watch despite discussing relatively complex topics. Among the many techniques used, I found myself employing visual aids that relate to contemporary culture (pop icons, etc), using wordplay and humor, as well as adding sound effects in order to make them snappier. Each video took approximately three weeks to complete, including the time taken to refine the drafts after showing it to Professor Oster. Over the course of the summer I completed two videos: “The Aromas of Avalon: Experiment 1 The Synthesis of Esters” and “Organic Toxicology: Chaucer was Poisoned!”. In addition to creating the visuals, I was also in charge or narrating the videos. The first half of the videos were usually easy to do, however the latter half usually involved me talking about chemistry and biochemistry. This was the part I didn’t understand anything I was saying.

Video editing has been something I’ve been doing since High School, seeing as that I took IB Higher Level Film in High School. I continued working on editing all throughout College since I am a Film & Media Culture major at Middlebury. This project, however, was different than what I usually do. I had to implement my research skills to find pictures that were appropriate for each segment, as well as use my humor in order to make the video entertaining. I believe I succeeded in doing so, but you can be the judge of that. I am attaching below a link to both videos.

Aromas of Avalon

Chaucer was Poisoned!

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