York College Alum Promotes New Ways of Learning in the Classroom with YouTube Channel
Eric Gimbi ’18 knows how to keep kids engaged in learning.
The York College alum, who majored in Secondary Education Social Studies, currently works as an 8th grade U.S. History teacher at Northeastern Middle School in York, PA. He, along with his friends and fellow teachers at Northeastern, Mike Graham and Dave Raymond (who taught Gimbi when he was a student at Northeastern), run the Bobblehead George YouTube channel.
The channel, which currently has 10.5K subscribers, focuses on a wide variety of presidential and historical topics. Videos range from recipes from Lewis and Clark’s expedition, titled Cooking with Lewis and Clark, to videos that show the inside of various presidents’ homes, including George Washington, James Madison, and James Buchanan.
“It's been really great,” Gimbi says.
A channel is born
“It was nice at York, and what I really appreciated about it was just how easy it was to get to know all the professors,” he says.
After completing his student teaching at Northeastern, Gimbi eventually started teaching American History full-time at the school in 2019. Graham and Raymond had already begun filming short video clips in Raymond’s backyard for the Bobblehead George YouTube channel, and Gimbi joined them.
“We called them Cooking with Lewis and Clark, and we'd recreate these recipes from Lewis and Clark's expedition,” he says. “That was a really rough start as far as filming with a cell phone.”
During the pandemic, Gimbi and Raymond began searching for ways to keep their students engaged. Raymond’s son Alex, who is a professional videographer, was home from college. With the permission of the school, the team filmed a virtual field trip to Gettysburg for their students’ curriculum in lieu of their annual in-person trip. And soon, the real genesis of the channel began.
“We filmed a virtual field trip at Gettysburg. And from that the channel caught the attention of the York County History Center, and we were able to film some stuff at the Colonial Complex and the York Agricultural and Industrial Museum,” Gimbi says. “And then from that the channel caught the attention of George Washington's Mount Vernon.”
Since then, and with the addition of Mike Graham to the team, they’ve filmed videos at James Buchanan’s Wheatland, James Madison’s Montpelier, and Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage. They’ve even begun collaborating with an outside company, Periodic Presidents.
“The past couple of years here have been great,” Gimbi says.
Keeping students engaged
For Gimbi, history is fun, but seeing students actively engage with the videos has been a rewarding experience.
“The major goal is to expose students in that age group to some different historical sites and get kids into history,” he explains. “When kids watch it on YouTube, because they watch so much stuff on YouTube, it captures their attention in a different way.”
The most rewarding part for him, he says, has been seeing students actively choose to watch Bobblehead George videos in their free time.
“They could be doing anything—they could be watching literally whatever they want, and they're spending time learning about history because of a video me and my friends made,” he says.
According to Gimbi, the students have received the channel well, across multiple social media platforms.
“They love it. They think it's really funny,” he explains. “We take shorts and we upload them to TikTok. And then they say, ‘You were on my For You page!’ I couldn't believe it.”
It’s a challenge, he adds, to keep kids engaged in a world that bombards you with content instantly, all the time. New ways of keeping students interested in learning are needed, which is where Bobblehead George comes in.
“As far as keeping with that innovation, the channel is again something to keep them engaged. Because when I'm talking about the Articles of Confederation, it's not inherently the most engaging thing for them,” Gimbi says. “But if I'm presenting it in new ways, and I think too when they see some of the effort that we put into it, they appreciate that.”
For a lifelong history lover, filming videos for the Bobblehead George channel has been an unusual experience for Gimbi.
“Every time it's just been surreal to me,” he says. “When I first finished student teaching, I went to Mount Vernon. I bought a ticket like everybody else did online and I thought that was the coolest thing. And then a year later, I was filming there at 8 o'clock at night walking around the place in my socks.”
At the end of the day, however, he is thankful to be filming videos with close friends, doing what he loves.
“Dave, Mike, and I have been friends for a long time,” he adds. “Getting to travel with your friends to these places has really been an amazing experience.”
You can find Bobblehead George here:
Instagram and Twitter: bobblehdgeorge
YouTube: Bobblehead George