Thursday, April 23, 2009

Bill Nye the Science Analogy Guy

Last night I had the pleasure of attending a speaking presentation by Bill Nye at the University at Buffalo's Alumni Arena. Although I was mildly disappointed at the absence of baking soda volcanoes and cool tricks with dry ice, Nye was still engaging, witty, and obviously incredibly intelligent.

His mantra for the evening was You can change the world – an ideal he applied to everything from global warming, to the automotive industry, and even the amount of energy consumed by idle ipod chargers. However, the part that I found most intriguing was the question and answer segment that followed his formal presentation.

I was impressed to see that Bill Nye was just as quick on his feet with the sometimes random, and sometimes controversial topics that audience members threw at him as he was during his presentation. In that last 30 minutes he spoke articulately on topics like stem cell research, space exploration, and conservation. But my ears perked when someone asked Nye about his opinions regarding how science is taught in schools.

Without hesitation, Nye immediately stated that science needed to be taught more at the elementary level. He pointed out that in part of the No Child Left Behind Act, science standards don't kick in until students reach the 7th grade. Nye unapologetically called NCLB a “recipe for disaster” (which evoked a round of applause from the audience).

I write all of this only so I can share Bill Nye's analogy with you. He said it would be like waiting until 7th grade to teach kids the alphabet. That's saying that science is as fundamental in today's society as literacy. Although I am an English Language Arts teacher, I wholeheartedly agree. Shouldn't innovation be a fundamental part of how we live life?
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