I loved Mr. Wizard. I thought his use of science to engage children in exploring the world around them was just awesome. Don Herbert was a decorated World War II veteran and an early TV pioneer and he realized the power of the medium to capture the public’s attention and draw it toward science. Bill Nye and the Mythbuster’s guys have all attributed their love of science and scientific experiment to Mr. Wizard and I think it’s entirely just. I know I certainly tried to re-create some of Mr. Wizard’s home based science experiments.
Science is friendly yet impartial and Mr. Wizard tried to make us all aware that it wasn’t about some stuffy egghead in a white lab coat sitting over some sterile lab environment with a blackboard in the background with the word’s “Kill God” written on it. Science is accepting of anyone with a willingness to learn about it, openly and freely, and without preconceived notions (or at least a willingness to have those notions bent.) The principals of science are for everyone.
Yesterday I saw a commercial on TV for something that I thought was pretty amazing. A company named Project MC2 (Squared) has launched a line of STEM related dolls. Each doll focuses on a particular area of science and comes with its own experiment. “The Project Mc² brand was developed in order to inspire girls that it's cool to be smart, leverage the growing trend of STEM,” the toy company’s . STEM is an acronym for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
I thought this was brilliant and frankly, something I have never seen. I think it’s about time companies understood that science is pretty cool and that the only way we can get back into the forefront of scientific exploration is to encourage play with these types of toys. It also emphasizes the fact, without sounding misogynistic; women have been mostly left out of science. I say this with a heavy heart and because the statistics support it. Women made up just 28 percent of science and engineering workers in 2010, according to the National Science Board's annual "Science and Engineering Indicators" report, from Feb. 6, 2014. These numbers have apparently risen to 33 percent since 2010, but that’s still dismally low. So I hope these toys encourage a whole new generation of young women to explore science and use it is a window to open-minded thinking.
It also got me wondering about Kim Davis. I wondered if she ever played with any science themed toys or was ever encouraged to explore ideas or concepts through science, technology, engineering or mathematics. Kim Davis is a Kentucky county clerk who spent six days in jail for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, claiming it conflicted with her religious principles. I wonder what sort of person she might be if she’d had the opportunity to play with toys like those being marketed by The Project MC2 brand. Would she still only believe that God is the engine behind all things on Earth, or could she perhaps still be a woman of faith but understand that God’s gift to humanity was curiosity and a willingness to explore the world around them, to in effect, become more like the being that allegedly created us in its own image?
I wondered if Mrs. Davis ever watched Mr. Wizard when she was younger. I wondered if her youthful fascination with the universe was limited to the dogmatic doctrine of a religious principal. Was it only Sunday school or was there any brain expanding school? Did she ever see a machine and think, “I wonder how that works, I should take it apart and then put it back together,” or did she just think, “God made it work through his infinite power, The End.”
Imagine if she had been exposed to scientific exploration or was encouraged to get into mathematics or engineering. She might be the loudest voice in the choir of scientists pleading for environmental change solutions or drumming up media attention to alternative power solutions or pushing Mars exploration. She might have been the claxon call for scientific education. I mean, considering the doggedness with which she is resisting a Supreme Court decision and the Law of the Land, imagine her doggedness for clean water in Africa through improved irrigation and solar power if she had been given the opportunity.
Perhaps, she might be that symbol after all. Perhaps she can bridge the gap between faith and scientific discovery. Even the Pope has indicated they’re not mutually exclusive. Maybe she’ll be that symbol of what NOT to be and inspire other’s to avoid her type of close-minded thinking. It’s certainly permissible to be a person of faith as well as someone with a burning desire to know why or how things work the way they do. It is through the search for truth that we ultimately find God. Or something to that effect I heard somewhere once.
The reason I do love science is because it’s fair. It’s a lot like chaos that way. Chaos and science don’t care where you’re from, how old you are, if you’re transgendered, if you’re mulatto, if you’re straight, or even if you believe in God. The reason things happen is always open to exploration and possibility. Physics is the best example of why science matters, since it’s always evolving and changing our understanding of the world around us yet keeps so many rapt with a nearly obsessive desire to know more.
Science opens the mind to possibilities, possibility is the doorway to questions, questions are the gateway to knowledge, and knowledge is the key to wisdom. Who wouldn’t want to be a little wiser?