Khan Academy and Breakthrough Prize celebrate Breakthrough Junior Challenge students

Earlier this year, Khan Academy and Breakthrough Prize challenged teens around the world to share their passion for math and science through video. The results blew us away - more than 2,000 teens from 86 countries submitted videos, bringing challenging concepts and theories to life.

After a peer review, the video submissions were evaluated by the Khan Academy team, Breakthrough Prize laureates, and other leaders in science, technology, and education. We’ve published some of our favorite entries - including winner Ryan Chester’s video about relativity - here.

Congratulations to everyone who participated in this year’s competition - we hope you’ll join us again in 2016!


New video series from goes behind the scenes of the internet

We’re excited to share a great new video series that our friends at created to explain how the internet works. We’ve had lots of fun learning about everything from cables and IP addresses to encryption and cybersecurity from some of the top names in the business, including David Karp (the founder of Tumblr), Parisa Tabriz (Google’s “Security Princess”), and engineers from Microsoft, Spotify, and Symantec. We all use the internet every day; this series offers a fascinating look under the hood to show how it functions.


Happy Mole Day from Khan Academy!

As a chemistry nerd, Mole Day is one of my favorite days. What’s a mole, you ask? It’s another name for Avogadro’s number, 6.022 × 1023. And 1023 is today’s date - 10/23 - see how we did that?! Chemists, so creative. So really, it is just a number like a “dozen” or a “pair.” It is actually a really really big number that we could also write out as 602214129000000000000000. In fact, did you know that Avogadro’s number is more than a million times as big as the number of seconds since the Big Bang?

Chemists use moles to make counting easier, like when talking about numbers of atoms or molecules. We can actually count anything in terms of moles, like water molecules. How many molecules are in a cup of water, which holds about 240 g of water? It turns out that a cup of water contains about 8,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 molecules of water. That’s a lot of molecules and chemists don’t want to write that out every time, so we can also just call it 13 moles of water instead.

You can learn more about Avogadro’s number and lots of other fun chemistry topics on Khan Academy. Happy Mole Day!

- Yuki, Khan Academy Chemistry Fellow and fan of moles, both animal and chemical


New biology resources debut on Khan Academy

We’re excited to share that, with support from the Amgen Foundation, we’re making lots of new videos, articles, and quizzes to help students taking biology courses at the AP and introductory college levels. Several areas of biology are already complete, and we’ll continue adding more throughout this school year and beyond.

Here’s a more detailed list of the biology topics we’ve revamped so far:

Chemistry of life
Water, acids, and bases
Properties of carbon
Structure of a cell
Membranes and transport
Cellular and molecular biology
Energy and enzymes

In addition to funding from the Amgen Foundation, scientists from the foundation’s parent company, the biotechnology firm Amgen, are volunteering their time to provide expert quality reviews of our new biology resources to ensure they’re top-notch. “Khan Academy has shown how to leverage technology to put an excellent education in the hands of every student,” says Eduardo Cetlin, president, Amgen Foundation. “We are proud to support Khan Academy in the development and launch of this exciting new biology content and hope these resources will help nurture, engage and inspire many future scientists in the U.S. and across the globe!”

We’re super lucky to have Emily Abrash on our team to lead all of this new biology work. Emily joined us after completing a PhD in biology at Stanford, where she was a biology teaching assistant. Emily also just so happens to be an intrepid cyclist who bikes dozens of miles to work each day!

Stay tuned for updates on new content in other subjects. There’s way more coming soon!


Khan Academy and BELL team up to help kids code

Guest post from Michael Sikora, Director of Communications at BELL (Building Educated Leaders for Life)


“Pick two:  Sculpture, Drawing, Team Sports, Coding, Improv Comedy, Drama, Film Appreciation.”

When the time came for Paolo to select the enrichment activities he wanted to participate in this summer, the opportunity to take a coding class jumped out at him.

“I didn’t really know anything about coding before this summer,” said Paolo. “But I wanted to try it out because I wanted to know how people made video games.”

Along with his peers at Davidson Middle School in San Rafael, California, Paolo learned some of the basics of computer programming as part of his summer learning experience thanks to a collaboration between BELL (Building Educated Leaders for Life) and Khan Academy.

This was the first summer that students – or, “scholars” as they are recognized in BELL’s programs – encountered Khan Academy’s free coding course, Intro to JavaScript, as a summer elective.  The two nonprofit organizations are also expanding individualized learning opportunities for scholars through Khan Academy’s free math resources, based on scholars’ individual needs identified by the results of the pre-program computer adaptive assessments.

Here’s how it all works:  the school leaders and teachers who deliver BELL’s summer learning programs for scholars in grades K-8 can choose to integrate the free Khan Academy math and coding resources into their summer learning plans, based on variables such as scholar needs and technology access.  BELL provides training, instructor guides and resources (such as primers, video tutorials, and sample reports) and ongoing coaching via email and webinars. Teachers, scholars, and parents can all access the math and coding resources, and continue using them after the summer program concludes. In fact, at a site visit at Davidson, Emily Radwin, BELL’s Learning and Assessment Systems specialist, was able to hear from both scholars and staff that many scholars were choosing to work on coding projects at home and on the weekends.

The Khan Academy coding curriculum also allows scholars to work collaboratively in pairs, and has opportunities for scholars to have “free time” and use what they’ve learned to work on free-form coding projects.

“One of the most rewarding things for me is to see the class so engaged by the curriculum,” said Anne Carmin, a teacher at the Davidson Middle School. “Scholars are excited to be here.”

You read that correctly: the opportunity to learn about computer programming, while also honing their academic skills, motivates scholars and makes them excited to spend a big part of their summer – five weeks, five days per week, six hours per day - at school.

“I like that we get to try out new things each day,” said Hendy.  One of his favorite activities was creating clouds with his newfound coding skills.  Jossie agreed.  “I like that we get to try new things here at BELL. When I started with coding, I didn’t know anything about the subject.  I started asking for help, and now I really like it.”

Read more about the summer learning scene in San Rafael in this article by the Marin Independent Journal, and learn more about how the math and coding activities work in BELL’s summer learning programs.  

Have you used Khan Academy’s Intro to JavaScript curriculum? Tell us your story in the comments below!