A popular guest on the Johnny Carson Show, Don Herbert was truly an inspiration to an entire generation of science enthusiasts. I remember watching him as a kid and being impressed by the fact that while he was amazing, he didn’t have a laboratory or wear a lab coat. He just looked like a friendly guy who did amazingly cool science experiments in his garage… what a great neighbor!
In contrast to television today, I was struck by the fact that he would allow an experiment to fail. Why didn’t they edit it out? Because he believed that failure was so important for children to see.
In 1991 I was approached by NBC television to host a 3½-minute science spot in a program called News for Kids. Remember, this was pre “Bill Nye the Science Guy” or “Beakman”. As we planned the look and feel of the segment, something inside told me to call Don Herbert and get his advice… so I did. Here’s what Don Herbet said, “Don’t’ let them put you in a lab coat if you don’t want to look like a doctor or research scientist… just be yourself… and “… never let the ‘gee-whiz-factor’ overtake what you are trying to teach”.
In my 14 years on TV, I can’t let the “gee whiz” overtake what I am trying to teach. And television has changed my teaching greatly – to truly create an edutainment experience.
(File size is 1.3 MB) (Show length 5 minutes 20 seconds)