Hey Bill Nye! What Advice Do You Have for Our Entire 8th Grade Engineering Class?
What happens when an entire classroom participates in #TuesdaysWithBill? Bill dishes out some useful live advice.
Bill Nye, scientist, engineer, comedian, author, and inventor, is a man with a mission: to help foster a scientifically literate society, to help people everywhere understand and appreciate the science that makes our world work. Making science entertaining and accessible is something Bill has been doing most of his life.
In Seattle Nye began to combine his love of science with his flair for comedy, when he won the Steve Martin look-alike contest and developed dual careers as an engineer by day and a stand-up comic by night. Nye then quit his day engineering day job and made the transition to a night job as a comedy writer and performer on Seattle’s home-grown ensemble comedy show “Almost Live.” This is where “Bill Nye the Science Guy®” was born. The show appeared before Saturday Night Live and later on Comedy Central, originating at KING-TV, Seattle’s NBC affiliate.
While working on the Science Guy show, Nye won seven national Emmy Awards for writing, performing, and producing. The show won 18 Emmys in five years. In between creating the shows, he wrote five children’s books about science, including his latest title, “Bill Nye’s Great Big Book of Tiny Germs.”
Nye is the host of three currently-running television series. “The 100 Greatest Discoveries” airs on the Science Channel. “The Eyes of Nye” airs on PBS stations across the country.
Bill’s latest project is hosting a show on Planet Green called “Stuff Happens.” It’s about environmentally responsible choices that consumers can make as they go about their day and their shopping. Also, you’ll see Nye in his good-natured rivalry with his neighbor Ed Begley. They compete to see who can save the most energy and produce the smallest carbon footprint. Nye has 4,000 watts of solar power and a solar-boosted hot water system. There’s also the low water use garden and underground watering system. It’s fun for him; he’s an engineer with an energy conservation hobby.
Nye is currently the Executive Director of The Planetary Society, the world’s largest space interest organization.
Chris: Hi Bill. I’m Chris and this is my eighth grade engineering class and I was wondering if you have any advice for aspiring engineers.
Bill Nye: This is great. You have an eighth grade engineering class. That’s so cool. I did not have anything that cool. But here’s a couple of pieces of advice. First of all, learn algebra. Algebra can be challenging because it takes repetition. I’m sorry everybody. It sucked for me too. You’ve just got to do these problems over and over until you’re good at them because, apparently, being able to think about numbers abstractly — this is to say you have letters representing numbers and their relationships — that allows you or enables you to think abstractly about all sorts of things. And in engineering, what we do is solve problems and make things. And in order to make things, I believe you have to envision it at some level. You have to have a sense of what something’s going to look like or how it’s going to perform or how it’s pieces will interact whether it’s an airplane landing gear or an amazing piece of software, a bit of code that somebody’s written, that you’ve written.
You want to be able to envision how they interact. So algebra’s really important and that will lead to calculus and this mythic thing called second order differential equations, which are just so wonderful. But there’s no hurry on that. Then the other thing is: Try stuff. Just make things. And of course be careful. Just bear in mind it’s not that hard as humans to make things that will injure yourself. And I’m not joking. You can sharpen a knife or you can cut your finger. But if you work with a knife that’s too dull, then you’re actually more likely to cut your finger. So just remember to take chances; try things, but be safe. And make that part of the process. And then you guys you’ve got to clean up. And if you’ve made a mess you’ve got to clean up. But man you’re taking engineering in eighth grade. That is fantastic. Solve problems and make — use science to solve problems and make things. Way to go you guys, you all. Thank you.
When an entire eighth grade engineering classroom asks Bill Nye a question, he delivers.
The Question: What sort of advice does he have for these students? Bill begins by regaling algebra, everyone's favorite least-favorite subject.
"Algebra can be challenging because it takes repetition," says Bill. "I’m sorry everybody. It sucked for me too."
Moving forward, it's important to develop an extensive knowledge of mathematical operations and principles. You have to learn to visualize what you're creating before you create it. Finally, you must strive to hone your curiosity by taking risks.
Of course, Bill acknowledges that these are eighth graders here. They've got plenty of time to get themselves ready to become the doers and shakers of the future. For now, the best advice is to learn to love learning.
- The meaning of the word 'confidence' seems obvious. But it's not the same as self-esteem.
- Confidence isn't just a feeling on your inside. It comes from taking action in the world.
- Join Big Think Edge today and learn how to achieve more confidence when and where it really matters.
- Patients from low-income neighborhoods are most at risk of negative health impacts.
- Economist Sylvia Ann Hewlett breaks down what qualities will inspire others to believe in you.
- Here's how 300 leaders and 4,000 mid-level managers described someone with executive presence.
- Get more deep insights like these to power your career forward. Join Big Think Edge.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.