Hey Bill Nye! Is Art as Important as Science?
As a science educator, Bill Nye the Science Guy has needed artistic conventions to communicate knowledge and information to his audience. That's just one reason why we need art, he says.
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.
Theo: Hi Bill. My name’s Theo. I’m 13 years old and I’m a huge fan of your work. I want to know if you think art is important. And if art is important, is it as important as the sciences? Thanks.
Bill Nye: Theo. Theo you’ve got to have art. We have to have art. We have to have science. I will claim that science is the best idea humans have ever had but, I mean, I’m a science educator. You would expect that from me. But I listen to music all day. I make up lyrics for songs all day. When I make a thing, which I like to do all the time, a tinkerer, I like the thing to look good. And I have done standup comedy telling jokes in an effort to get people to think about us, ourselves, our relationships to each other, our society. These to me are all forms of art that I participate in. I shudder to think what my world would be like without other artists contributing which would not be nearly as good. You have to have both. But what I encourage everybody is, you don’t want to have one to the exclusion of the other. You want to have both – science and art. However, science has affected our society dramatically.
What’s the most significant invention ever? It might be a sewer. Without sewers we would just not have as good a life as we have right now in the developed world. And that’s based on science. Roads, cars, this computer, this video interaction that we’re having. That’s all enabled by science. But you want the background to look good. You want my tie to look good. Whoever made my tie was an artist and I’m glad that he or she was out there doing this piece of art. So you’ve got to have both man. Don’t take one or the other. And don’t use it as an excuse not to learn algebra.
The American education tradition is firmly rooted in liberal arts and the sciences, though increasingly calls are being made for STEM education. Whether this comes from economic concerns or from purely educational ones, we don't want science at the exclusion of art, or visa versa, says Bill Nye the Science Guy. As a science educator, Bill Nye the Science Guy has needed artistic conventions to communicate knowledge and information to his audience. That's just one reason why we need art, he says.
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