Can Bill Nye – Or Any Other Science Show – Really Save The World?

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Will Bill Nye’s new show find a wider audience than Neil deGrasse Tyson’s ‘Cosmos’ did? Vince Bucci/Invision for the Television Academy/AP Images

By: Heather Akin, University of Pennsylvania; Bruce W. Hardy, Temple University; Dietram A. Scheufele, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Dominique Brossard, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Netflix’s new talk show, “Bill Nye Saves the World,” debuted the night before people around the world joined together to demonstrate and March for Science. Many have lauded the timing and relevance of the show, featuring the famous “Science Guy” as its host because it aims to myth-bust and debunk anti-scientific claims in an alternative-fact era.

But are more facts really the kryptonite that will rein in what some suggest is a rapidly spreading “anti-science” sentiment in the U.S.?

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“Chatt About Science” – What it Takes to Start a Science Cafe (Q&A)

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Dr. Sarah Webb and Dr. Deanna Beasley outside a Chatt About Science event.

Can I interest you in a shot of science with your caramel macchiato?

Science cafes are popping up across the country and around the world.

The concept is simple, researchers chat with the public about their exciting work at a coffee bar, ‘real’ bar, or another public place. Instead of a technical presentation, the researchers share their stories in language easily understood by a diverse audience of non-scientists. Conversation, questions, and debate then follow with the goal of boosting public understanding of – and support for – science.

Most major cities have science cafe programs, but when freelance writer Dr. Sarah Webb moved to Chattanooga in 2012, she was surprised that the city didn’t have its own. It took a few years, but she started one herself – calling it Chatt About Science.

The first event took place November 2016. She’s currently planning number six. Each Chatt About Science attracts an average of 20 people to a local coffeehouse to learn about science. So far, topics have included plant ecology, chemistry, memory, urban ecology, and water quality.

In this Q & A, Dr. Sarah Webb shares what she learned as she brought Chatt About Science to life. Hopefully, this will inspire you to do the same in your community. Continue reading

Saving Science Education: What Can Parents Do?

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That’s my boy…touching a real brain!

It was a cool January night and my two boys were ready for bed when I said I had a surprise for them. They were going to see Jupiter that night, and they seemed genuinely excited.

We grabbed our binoculars and ran outside. I watched as they stood in the driveway staring at the little white dot just to the left of the full moon. It took only ten minutes, but that night they realized science was more than just something you read about in books; it was real and it is everywhere.

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Songs of Science: They’ll Make You Think, Laugh and Learn

Found on unsplash.com photo credit to Marcus Neto.

Found on unsplash.com photo credit to Marcus Neto.

Search the web for ‘science songs’ and you’ll probably be disappointed. I was. The lists I found were short and filled with many of the old ‘expected’ tunes…and I knew there was so much more out there.

A while back I polled my Facebook friends, scoured by personal music library and asked for input on Twitter. This list came from that effort, but it’s not complete. Continue reading

Understanding & Respecting the Connection Between Teaching and Research

UTC students collecting giant water bugs to study mating and parental care behavior. The work was recently published in the journal Ethology and the students were co-authors on the publication.

UTC students collecting giant water bugs to study mating and parental care behavior. The work was recently published in the journal Ethology and the students were co-authors on the publication.

I started my new job as Vice Chancellor for Marketing and Communication at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in January.

One of the most surprising things about this school is that its professors and students are doing amazing research, but the research hasn’t been widely shared or promoted. I desperately want to remedy the situation. Continue reading