It all started in 1993, when that disembodied spinning head first appeared on television screens while the simple, yet unforgettable moniker rang out across living rooms far and wide, “Bill Nye the Science Guy!” Within seconds an entire generation had been let in on a closely guarded secret; science rules. Bill Nye’s approach to teaching the masses about science was aimed at more than just spreading the information. His main mission was to excite. He wanted to convey his own enthusiasm for knowledge and learning, separate from the material. Now as part of the Dancing with the Stars Cast, Bill Nye is back in full bow-tied splendor to show us just how far he will go to make people love science.
This month marked the 20 year anniversary of the start of his show and to celebrate Bill Nye released a page from a document handed out to all who worked for him at the time. He called it his Rules of the Road and in it, his mission is perfectly clear.
“Change the world.
Produce a TV show that gets kids and adults excited about science, so that the United States will again be the world leader in technology, innovation and sound management of the environment.
For example, when the audience is of age, we’d like them to produce the best transportation systems in the world…”
These inspirational words are more than just aspiration, they are the shouldering of responsibility towards recruiting successive generations to enthusiastically apply themselves to solving many of the world’s most pressing problems. This is a responsibility that Nye clearly takes very seriously. He presents his lessons on a wide range of topics — biology, astronomy, and environmental to name a few — and while he keeps the information approachable, he conveys it with a passion and intensity that speaks to his dedication to inspiring youth.
“When I talk to the camera, I do my best to talk to one person. I’m talking to that kid I want to influence. I want him or her to get excited about this thing that I am so excited about,” said Nye.
How far he is willing to go for us to know his love for science shows in his commitment to be on this season of Dancing with the Stars. His has stated that his appearance on the show is specifically meant to generate more enthusiasm for science and he is using the show as his latest platform to demonstrate his conviction for his cause.
That conviction is contagious as well. Social media outlets are full of comments from people who have chosen their careers based on the enthusiasm that Bill Nye imparted upon them. When asked if he had ever encountered any examples of his influence, he said, “There have been many, many. It’s wonderful. People say they became a physician, engineer, geneticist, and so on, because of the show. Wow. It’s amazing to me. Thank you all…”
His work to make us love science isn’t finished, either. He is still making videos and publishing them online. One of his most recent online videos presents a demonstration on how germs are spread. In the video, Nye uses a white powder and an ultraviolet light to show how germs start on one hand but are easily spread in great quantity to another. He then touches his face and shows with the light how the germs are on his face while explaining that they are free to travel into the body through the eyes, nose and mouth. Finally, he touches a muffin with the hand that has been thoroughly established to be unclean and the sense of urgency is complete. No one wants to eat a germ muffin. He is not fear mongering, though. He is simply trying to impart on children the importance of washing one’s hands in a way that keeps them engaged with what is happening around them.
After 20 years of tireless enthusiasm, he is now plunging into the ruthless experience of competitive ballroom dancing. At 57 years old, he is taking on what might arguably be the most physically challenging task of his career and he is doing so with gusto. “I’m in it to win it,” he says, showing us just how committed he is to all he does, whether it be Dancing with the Stars or generating a love for science that spans generations.
Written by: Vanessa Blanchard