Hold the phone: Bill Nye the Science Guy is slated to compete on the 17th season of “Dancing with the Stars.”
Mind you, I have never watched a single episode of the dancing competition, much less a performance. In fact, perhaps the most I’ve ever seen of the long-running TV series is a commercial promoting the next big season. I’ve simply never had the time or interest.
For the first time in my young adult life, I may actually consider tuning in for the sole purpose of watching the bow tie-wearing scientist bust a move.
William “Bill” Nye is most famous for hosting the PBS Kids show, “Bill Nye the Science Guy.”
He was a hallmark of elementary and middle school science classrooms. My fellow students and I would grow giddy every time our teacher popped in an episode of Bill Nye, and we would gleefully chant his name with the opening theme. Bill Nye did the impossible: He made science accessible and enjoyable to children.
It’s been more than 15 years since the end of the Bill Nye series, but Nye still stands as an American educator determined to get people excited about science — space exploration in particular — which is something the world desperately needs. He’s a founder of the nonprofit organization, The Planetary Society, which has the mission “to inspire the people of Earth to explore other worlds, understand our own, and seek life elsewhere.”
Why is space exploration so important? Nye said it best himself.
In 2012, Nye came out in opposition to the Obama administration’s proposed $300 million cut to NASA’s planetary exploration budget.
“Investment in space stimulates society; it stimulates it economically, it stimulates it intellectually and it gives us all passion,” Nye said.
Today, some critics might call Nye’s participation in the upcoming season of “Dancing with the Stars” gimmicky, just a way for the former TV personality to stay relevant.
I’m more optimistic, and so is Nye.
After the new lineup for the dancing competition was announced, Nye wrote a blog post on The Planetary Society’s website, saying, “In order for us to carry out our mission to get the world — our world — excited about and supportive of space exploration, we need to engage people everywhere. The show is watched by millions. I’ll be there as your CEO of The Planetary Society and a student of Carl Sagan.”
Like Nye, I’m hoping his participation in the dancing competition will help spark public interest in space exploration again. The 57-year-old definitely faces some challenges ahead, though.
Nye also mentioned in his blog that he will “be fighting decades of bad posture” to compete, but I’m confident he will give it his best. Those who watched “Bill Nye the Science Guy” are already familiar with his fiery spirit, which could translate into success on the dance floor.
So thank you, Nye, for taking one for the team by joining the “Dancing with the Stars” cast — for science.
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