I just missed out when Bill Nye The Science Guy first hit the airwaves in 1993. (I was a freshman in high school at the time, and Nye has indicated his show’s target audience was 10-year-olds.) But while the format didn’t hook me, the message sure did – science was cool and exciting and invigorating and something worth doing.
Nye was and remains one of the very few nationally known champions of science education. He has made his fair share of headlines this winter, from debating Young Earth Creationists to taking selfies with President Obama. So when he came to the University of Missouri to keynote the 10th annual MU Life Sciences and Society Symposium, I jumped at the chance to go.
Upon taking the stage, Nye stopped briefly to change into a Mizzou-themed bowtie before launching into his lecture. Nye has been accused of liberal bias before, but the only thing that shone through was his science bias. Science will solve the world’s problems, he says, whether that’s building a better battery, finding new renewable fuel sources or solving the problems related to feeding and educating the world’s exploding population.
Nye says these problems will only be solved by igniting a love for science in future generations. He’s made this his life’s goal, in fact. Asked what the next crop of teachers should be teaching their students, Nye responded with a simple answer.
"PB&J," he said. "Passion, beauty and joy. Teach them the passion, beauty and joy of science and discovery."
Another student asked Nye who influenced him the most growing up and when he first became interested in science.
"I don’t know," he said. He talked instead about sitting in his front yard at the age of 3, watching bees buzz around his mother’s azalea bushes. Nye says that the observations he made cemented his own joy of discovery, and he spends a fair amount of time "just observing" even today.
As for me, I "do science" by writing about what you live and breathe every day. Your livelihoods depend on biology, physiology, geology, geography, climatology, chemistry, physics – any number of disciplines. Thank you for letting me take part in those joys of discovery with you.
And thank you, Mr. Nye. I’ll never look at a PB&J in the same way again.
Bill Nye fist-bumps Mizzou Mascot Truman the Tiger during his visit to the MU Life Sciences and Society Symposium.