ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — The University of Michigan's School of Public Health has released a series of humorous videos that attempt to answer such questions as: Will wearing a hat keep you warm if you venture outside in the cold wearing nothing else?
Andrew Maynard developed the Risk Bites series, available on YouTube. He is director of the university's Risk Science Center and a professor of environmental health sciences.
Maynard said he wants the series to give people credible and timely information on understanding human health risks.
"Increasingly sophisticated educational material on YouTube and elsewhere is being consumed by ever-greater numbers of people," he said in a statement. "The most successful content generators are people with a passion for knowledge and an ability to connect with their audience. And in this new medium they are leaving professional educators in the dust."
In the "Does Wearing a Hat Keep You Warm While Dancing Naked?" video and others, Maynard uses a white dry erase board and a black marker to draw lessons. Other "more provocative" topics of his include "Ten Ways Water Can Kill," ''Could Eating Chocolate Get You a Nobel Prize?" and "Poop and Cell Phones," university spokeswomen Terri Mellow and Laurel Thomas Gnagey said in a statement.
Maynard's face is never seen in the videos. Only his hand is visible as he draws objects, stick figures and words and narrates.
"I'm amused when people tell me I draw well, because I really don't," Maynard said. "But I think that this is perhaps part of the charm of the videos."
The series officially launched in November, and the reaction to them has been positive so far among professionals who teach about risk, he said. Some already are using the videos in their courses.
Still, Maynard said he has yet to fully connect with his target audience of young people.
He challenges critics who say it's impossible to explain complex science in a 60-to-90-second video.
"If we are going to communicate effectively, we need to be where people are, not where we think people should be," Maynard said. "With social media we need to think of education as a conversation. Risk Bites does this by creating a complex tapestry of understanding, one thread at a time."
Risk Science Center: http://www.sph.umich.edu/riskcenter
Video on dancing naked in the cold, with a hat: http://bit.ly/Y4l5Wh
Risk Bites and Risk Sense: http://www.risksense.org