‘Bill Nye the Science Guy’ comical but outdated

April 26, 2016 — by Frederick Kim

Nearly every American student who has attended public school can recognize the opening song for the iconic TV show, “Bill Nye the Science Guy.” The days in elementary and middle school, when science teachers played episodes to give students a break from notes, have long since passed, but the catchy song still stays close to many students’ hearts.

 

“Bill, Bill, Bill, Bill, Bill Nye the Science Guy!”

Nearly every American student who has attended public school can recognize the opening song for the iconic TV show, “Bill Nye the Science Guy.” The days in elementary and middle school, when science teachers played episodes to give students a break from notes, have long since passed, but the catchy song still stays close to many students’ hearts.

In each episode of “Bill Nye the Science Guy,” which began airing in 1993 on PBS Kids, host Nye teaches a scientific topic, ranging anywhere from gravity to rain patterns. The show weaves in comical elements such as strange sound effects and crazy body movement for entertainment.

Each episode can be broken down into several parts. The first segment, “Nifty Home Experiments,” features experiments that can be tried at home with everyday materials. Following are other individual segments, such as “Did you know that …” in which Nye gives strange facts, and “Consider the following,” in which Nye performs mini experiments. These short yet information-packed segments make the show more digestible for young audiences.

However, for all of the show’s efforts to make science more interesting through comedy, it is still lacking in some areas. Unlike today’s comedy shows, Nye’s humor doesn’t stimulate uncontrollable laughter. His crazy actions and sound effects might seem funny, but neither compares to the sophisticated jokes of other popular shows.

In an episode on outer space, the show speeds up with Nye  walking away from the camera in an exaggerated, fast-paced footsteps. Maybe it’s funny to watch Bill run in two times speed, but when it’s repeated six times it can get pretty redundant.

In addition to the old-fashioned comedy, there is also a generation gap that is becoming more defined as the time goes by. For instance, in the episode on atoms, Nye used a model of the atom where electrons orbit singularly around the nucleus. However, as we all know now, electrons actually have quantum properties, allowing them to be in different places at the same time, forcing scientists to change the atomic model to use electron clouds.

While perhaps not as applicable today due to outdated comedic allusions and information, “Bill Nye the Science Guy” provides an opportunity for students to learn through easily digestible and quirky lessons, while taking a break from the typical, monotonous, boring lectures.

 
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