After decades of teaching kids about the ways of science, the 90s saw the Bunsen-burner torch passed from Mr. Wizard to a newcomer with his own quirky method for making learning fun, Bill Nye the Science Guy. Reminiscent of that high school science teacher that every kid hoped they would get, his off-kilter (and often high-speed) approach kept the attention of every tyke that ever tuned in.
Cornell University-graduate Bill Nye started his adult life studying mechanical engineering before getting a job for Boeing, where he appeared as the host of a number of company training films. He was so comfortable behind the camera, not to mention a pretty funny guy, that he eventually ended up as part of a sketch comedy television series called Almost Live! On one episode, he corrected the host of the show who had mispronounced a scientific term and earned the response: “Who do you think you are? Bill Nye, the Science Guy?” The name stuck.
Coincidentally, that wasn’t Mr. Nye’s only gig at the time; he was also working with Christopher Lloyd on the Saturday morning series, Back to the Future: The Animated Series. He appeared in live-action segments helping Lloyd’s “Doc Brown” character perform science experiments. The kids loved the segments and Disney took notice of Doc’s hip helper.
In 1993, the Disney-produced Bill Nye the Science Guy debuted on PBS. Wearing his trademark blue lab coat and bowtie, Bill Nye spent 30 minutes each episode teaching kids biology, chemistry, geology and physics, always in a way that was both entertaining and engaging. Here, for example, he dispels a few myths about Hollywood’s version of quicksand:
And, as any fan remembers, there was always a wonderful song parody at the end that served as a recap of everything covered in the episode:
Bill Nye the Science Guy ran on PBS and local syndicated stations from 1993-1997, with exactly 100 episodes produced. If you learned a few things from this terrific teacher back in the day, we welcome your memories in our comments section. And if you were wondering what Mr. Nye is up to these days, you might enjoy taking a look at his blog. He’s still doing what he does best, teaching us in his own inimitable way.