If you were a child of the nineties (or a parent of one) you understand the excitement that happens when you hear the chants of “Bill, Bill, Bill, Bill!” Whether you were watching at home or at school, Bill Nye the Science Guy was must-see-TV for a generation. The classic show that ran on PBS from 1993 to 1998 used outrageous experiments and plenty of corny jokes to teach kids all about the scientific method, the speed of light, the Periodic table, craters, dinosaurs, and so much more. And no matter what was the science-based topic, it was always clear that Nye was having a great time teaching kids to ask questions about the world around them.
So it’s no surprise that now, 20 years after the program originally aired, when speaking with 57-year-old Nye about anything — from his new brand-new science app for kids to his day job as CEO of the Planetary Society — the conversation eventually finds him passionately expounding on something he wants you to learn: From South Africa’s new space program to how the dinosaurs likely died (a ginormous crater!), Nye will talk at length about how it’s all interconnected, and how there is so much more to discover. His excitement is still contagious, so it’s encouraging that a brand-new self-titled free app will help a whole new generation of kids do things like try some do-it-yourself experiments or check out a sun dial. “All the kids are doing it with their electric computer machines,” he explains with a laugh about why the time was now to create an app. “They’re fun. It’s a way to engage people and include people in a way beyond the 22-minutes they spend watching [a] show. Bring it on!”
That’s all well and good, but for twenty-somethings who just want all their 90s shows back, one question remains: Will the Science Guy ever return with new episodes? “I’d love to do the show, and I hope to get back on extensively online both through Nerdist.com and the Planetary Society,” he said. “We’re working on a video presence. But it’s a different era so you probably won’t see 28-minute episodes. They’ll be three minutes [or so] but there will be many more of them.”
Nye also expressed hope that in addition to creating more Science Guy in some form for kids, he can also begin to do some version of educational video for adults. “My goal is to get scientifically literate taxpayers and voters,” he explains. “…To me there’s nothing more inspiring or [that] fills me with more reverence than science. We know our place in space; our place in the cosmos more than any other generation of humans. We are living in a remarkable yet remarkably humbling time.”
For now, Nye is just happy that people still care about the Science Guy. “It’s really gratifying,” he says about the support for the show, highlighting the standing ovations he gets when he visits colleges. “I don’t think I get it. I can be in a Starbucks in Nebraska and somebody will say, ‘I grew up watching your show’ or ‘I love your show,’ or a teacher will come up to me and say, ‘I use your show in class all the time.’ The reach of it, it’s gotten to millions of people, and it’s very gratifying. Maybe we will change the world.”