Hey Bill Nye, 'Do I Have to Choose Between a Science and Arts Education?'

Television Host and Science Educator
Bill Nye the Science Guy explains how reinvigorating basic research and development in our schools resulted in the acronym STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), and why new acronyms are emerging.
  • Transcript


Sam Passer: Hi Bill Nye this is Sam Passer. And my question for you is, as an art student myself, do I have to choose between art and science for our next generations to thrive or can art and science coexist? Please let me know. Thanks.

Bill Nye: Sam! Sam! Sam! Art and science have to coexist. They're both human endeavors. However, just keep in mind I am a science guy and like this that science, this process that humans have developed seems to be, to my way of thinking, the best idea we've had, the best idea we've had about how to know nature, how to know our place in the world, in the cosmos. But without art we would hardly be people. Art is created by people and it inspires each of us. It's the way we send messages. It's the way we motivate each other or keep each other from doing something. Art is part of us. We don't want art or science, we want to both.

With that said, a little commentary about our current controversy in education in the United States, everybody goes on and on with this acronym STEM, STEM, STEM, STEM, STEM: science, technology, engineering and math. And this is a fine acronym. It talks about or it was created to address what was a clear need here in the United States after people landed on the moon, investment in basic research was curtailed, except in the military spending. And so we stopped, the United States stopped doing as much basic research as it had been doing and so to reinvigorate this people created this acronym and there's all these science, technology, engineering and math programs in school. It's good. It's good.

Now people talk about STEAM: science, technology, engineering, art and math. Well good. Yes. And I've heard STEAMd: science, technology, engineering, art, math and design. Okay. Pretty soon the acronym is going to have all the letters that we would call the SCHOOL, just SCHOOL. You go to school and you've got to have math; you've got to have language arts, English in my case and the United States were English is the primary language; you've got to have a history; you got to have a – I'd like us to have civics about the U.S. Constitution and the behavior and the way the government is created; and we've got to have art; you got to have science. Yes. We've got to have all of that. But this tacking stuff on this acronym that became so popular, STEM, is okay, everybody but let's not forget we got to do everything. It's not one or the other. Please, it's not one or the other.

Learn the process of science. You don't have to become a scientist full-time or an engineer full-time. And for those of you who love science and engineering I hope you pursue some art and learn some art and how to create art yourself and appreciate it. It's what makes us people. Go for it.