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Bill Nye the Science Guy
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The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Bill Nye the Science Guy is a 1990s educational series that mixes humor, action, and quality educational content related to the sciences. Renowned scientist Bill Nye explores topics such as biodiversity, magnetism, and outer space in 25-minute fast-moving episodes that look at each subject from many angles. The show is geared toward tweens, and some of the topics are above youngsters' abilities, but it's a fun watch for just about any age. If your kids are sensitive to the realities of the wild, you may want to prescreen episodes that involve interactions between predators and prey so they're not taken by surprise by chase scenes.
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What's the story?
In BILL NYE THE SCIENCE GUY, host Bill Nye explores matters of science ranging from simple mechanics to the human digestive system. Each episode opens in his tricked-out laboratory, where Nye illustrates the show's concept with various visual aids, then goes on location to observe the topic firsthand. Recurring segments include "Way Cool Scientist," which spotlights an expert in the field; "Did You Know That ... ," which poses intriguing facts related to the subject; and music videos featuring songs that parody popular hits while reinforcing the show's topic.
Is it any good?
It's no wonder that this '90s series has retained its immense popularity, given the appeal of its comical, camera-friendly host and his knack for condensing even the most complex scientific matters into 25 minutes of fascinating content. Nye is like the cool teacher middle school students hope turns up on their schedules because learning from him rarely feels like learning at all, which is why these videos often pull substitute duty in science classrooms.
The fact that each episode tackles only one topic means there's ample time to explore it from many angles. Nye and his cast of young scientists use experiments and visual aids -- many of which could be replicated at home -- to illustrate the concepts at hand, and field experts cover the topics as they relate to their specific jobs. Kids and adults will learn a lot, but it's never a laborious process, thanks to Nye's humor and the show's clipped pace. Another bonus? Because the episodes focus on one topic at a time, it's easy to find one that will pique your kids' interest. At the same time, Bill Nye the Science Guy is so entertaining it could easily be used to introduce entirely new concepts in a fun way.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the concepts addressed in Bill Nye the Science Guy. Has what you learned changed how you see the world around you? Are you curious to discover more? How might you go about that? What technology exists to help?
What makes Bill Nye an engaging teacher? Did he change your attitude about the subject matter? How do great teachers and role models inspire the best in their students?
What threats does our natural world face right now? How are ecosystems changing? What can be done to help?
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