Science is the best idea humans have ever had. The more people who embrace that idea, the better.
To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t the biggest fan of Bill Nye the Science Guy as a kid. It’s not that I disliked the guy or abhorred the show, per se. It just wasn’t one of my favorites. Curiously, I’ve become much more interested in science after finishing school, so imagine my excitement when I heard about Bill Nye Saves the World. It’s a new show on Netflix and it’s wildly different from the original.
In between sessions of Peppa Pig and Dinosaur Train with the toddler, I managed to catch the first episode of Bill Nye’s new half-hour show. Whereas the original series was targeted at kids, the new program is much more adult-oriented and unapologetically political. He spent almost the whole time yelling at climate change deniers.
Politics aside — and he seems to have gotten much angrier and more frustrated with age — Bill Nye has always been a strong supporter of a very simple message: get children excited about science. The more we encourage critical thinking and systematic analysis, the better.
Everybody who’s a physician, who makes vaccines, who wants to find the cure for cancer. Everybody who wants to do any medical good for humankind got the passion for that before he or she was 10.
The prevailing culture of our society tells us that homework “sucks” and if you like school, you’re a “nerd.” It’s almost like being bad at math is fashionable, with adults proudly laughing at their inability to perform basic arithmetic. This needs to change. Geeks and nerds are the people who will change the world for generations to come. We want our young people to be passionate about innovation, discovery and science.
Children are curious by nature. They’re constantly experimenting, testing the limits of their own abilities and learning about the world around them. Can I hop across this log on just one leg? What happens if I drop a big rock into this puddle of mud? We should encourage this curiosity, even if it means we have a bit of a mess to clean up afterward.
There’s nothing I believe in more strongly than getting young people interested in science and engineering, for a better tomorrow, for all humankind.
Unless we want to end up in the future depicted in the film Idiocracy, where the only scientific “fact” people know is that electrolytes are what plants crave, we need to get young people interested in science. They need not aspire to become scientists or engineers by trade when they grow up; they just need to interpret the world through the skeptical and systematic lens of science.
Bill Nye will always be “the science guy” to me. And with his new show, he just may be saving the world.
Image credit: NASA/GSFC/Bill Hrybyk