|Creative Commons image by Ed Schipul|
While my colleagues may make fun of me, I freely admit that one of my heroes is Bill Nye. Had his award-winning television show, Bill Nye the Science Guy, aired when I was a kid, my career path would have been much, much different.
I had just started working in publishing by the time his show debuted, but still I watched in fascination at how he could teach science concepts so effectively with humor and wit. And having heard him speak several times at the National Science Teachers Association convention, I know I’m not alone in my admiration, as he spoke to huge crowds and gave out hundreds of autographs. For me, his speeches often generated ideas for several new book series and fueled my interest being part of science education from a publishing perspective.
Several articles and television news segments about Bill appeared this summer, lauding him for his work that started 20 years ago as a TV science personality, inspiring generations of kids to pursue careers and interests in science. (While his show is no longer on the air, Bill regularly “subs” in classrooms around the globe via video recordings. It’s a standing joke at every NSTA convention.) And through Big Think and other projects, he’s educating adults too, tackling even touchy topics like teaching evolution in schools.
Now as CEO of The Planetary Society, Bill is influential in shaping opinion and policy concerning space exploration, as well as raising money for privately funded projects. Just last week, SpaceNews highlighted The Planetary Society’s advocacy work in helping secure $1.3 million in funding from congressional appropriations committees for NASA’s Planetary Science Division–more than the White House had asked for.
And today, as my colleague Kathleen informed me, Bill announced that he’s bringing science to a new frontier…Dancing with the Stars! Says Bill on his Facebook page: “As unusual as this may seem, I believe we can broaden awareness of The Planetary Society and thereby humankind’s exploration of the Cosmos one ballroom dance at a time. Nerds can dance, too!”
Change the world, Bill, one dance at a time!