New Bill Nye show combat scientific ignorance


Photo Credit: Albert Lee | Daily Texan Staff

As children, our parents teach us that learning is a constant process and we do our absolute best to ignore them. With the many distractions inherent in our culture, it is easy to absorb mindless entertainment and false information. The latter is far more damaging, as it can lead to adults who assume the information they grew up on is always accurate. This is where Bill Nye the Science Guy came in on Sept. 10, 1993. His background in science and comedy birthed a show that educated a generation, and his return this year is anticipated by fans and newcomers alike.

“Bill Nye Saves the World” has a general premiere date, though no specifics have been released. Millennials all over the country wait with bated breath for the return of their first science teacher this spring. The excellent timing of this show’s release cannot be overstated. Though the past few years have seen increasing support for STEM fields from top government officials — including President Obama — there is fear among the science community that the incoming administration has less interest in encouraging young people to enter STEM fields.

On top of concerns about Betsy DeVos’ religious motivations and support of voucher programs and charter schools, the nationwide attention to political leaders and giants of industry has spurred a new age of misinformation. Due to the attention paid to respected officials, there is a need for someone to separate fact from fiction. Bill Nye plans to let his show fill this crucial role. Each episode will tackle a different scientific topic, often specifically focused on dispelling rumors or anti-scientific claims.

Professor Lawrence Abraham, co-director of the UTeach Natural Science Program, said that educational programming can be very helpful for young children.

“Educational programming can expand children’s experiences to include both cultural settings they would not ordinarily see or understand and also physical places, things and happenings that are not within the part of the world in which they live.” Abraham said.

A fan of Bill Nye himself, Abraham said that his own early education relied heavily on televised instructors.

“From second grade through twelfth grade I had both TV teachers and classroom teachers for almost every subject,” Abraham said. “I think this initiative provided me with great early learning experiences, before today’s versions of children’s educational television, which helped develop some critical thinking skills as well provided exposure to social, cultural and scientific ideas and ways of understanding the world that I would not have otherwise had.”

At the moment, grown millennials may well be the most excited for the return of our favorite televised scientist, but let us not forget that this program is aimed at those much younger. Just as he inspired us to think critically and approach problems differently as we grew, Bill Nye has returned to educate the next generation.

The support that the science community has gotten from President Obama and his administration is likely to diminish over the next four years, making Nye and those like him all the more important. In this age of misinformation, it is up to all of us to check facts and sources. With Nye at our backs combating science falsehoods, that job just got a bit easier.

Bonfiglio is a journalism junior from Oak Creek, Colorado. Follow her on twitter at @NahilaBonfiglio