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.

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.

Big Think Edge
  • 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.

'Upstreamism': Your zip code affects your health as much as genetics

Upstreamism advocate Rishi Manchanda calls us to understand health not as a "personal responsibility" but a "common good."

Sponsored by Northwell Health
  • Upstreamism tasks health care professionals to combat unhealthy social and cultural influences that exist outside — or upstream — of medical facilities.
  • Patients from low-income neighborhoods are most at risk of negative health impacts.
  • Thankfully, health care professionals are not alone. Upstreamism is increasingly part of our cultural consciousness.
Keep reading Show less
Big Think Edge
  • 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.