What do chemists do? Find out on Khan Academy!

Many students take chemistry classes, but they aren’t sure how their classroom knowledge might translate into careers in the real world. That’s why we’ve launched our “Meet the chemistry professional” series. We found people working in fields such as medicine, epidemiology, and software engineering, and with cool hobbies ranging from rock climbing to dog training:

Syud Momtaz Ahmed, industrial scientist and tabla player

Andrew Chadeayne, inventor and coonhound trainer

Colin Fuller, software engineer and outdoor enthusiast

Mary O’Reilly, science illustrator and comic strip writer

Rachel Price, engineer and bike-traveler

Jared Roop, forensics/analytical chemist and Cardinals fan

Monica Shah, epidemiologist and bicyclist

Karen Wheeler, physician and long distance runner

George Zaidan, science media jack-of-all-trades and rock climber

We asked each person to share what they work on, how they became interested in chemistry, and what they do for fun. We also asked them to give one piece of advice for people interested in chemistry, and we got some great responses! A few advice snippets that I’d like to share:

“Develop an excellent understanding of the fundamentals. More often than not, the ‘smartest’ person in the room is the one who actually understands everything in a freshman chemistry book.” - Andrew Chadeayne

“Understanding chemistry involves a lot of building mental models and understanding what details are ok to abstract away and what details are important. That’s something that’s useful for many things, like the software development that I do nowadays. Chemistry is great, no matter what you end up doing.” - Colin Fuller

“Chemistry has applications in many careers, so don’t feel limited in scope by the core areas that you study in school. It is also important to gain experience to truly understand how chemistry applies in different settings.” -Monica Shah

“Do what feels right, not what (you think) other people (might) want you to do.” - George Zaidan

We hope you enjoy getting to know these folks, and we look forward to adding more interviews to this series. If you have a chemistry-related career you’d like to learn more about, or if you know someone whom we might include, please let us know in the comments below!

- Yuki, Khan Academy Chemistry Fellow


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!