Bill Nye and the Role of Curiosity in Learning

Photo via NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Photo via NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Bill Nye is a name many are familiar with. For many, the memories of Bill start with his classic Disney show from the 1990s, Bill Nye the Science Guy. It was a show that sparked interest in the sciences for an entire generation. It was also a show that I loved, even though I was admittedly a little older than the intended demographic. But that’s where my nephews came in. I have plenty of great memories of sitting with my nephews and watching the show, a show that, in truth, I was more interested in watching than they were – at least at first.

My initial exposure to Bill Nye actually came earlier than his show. I was a big Back to the Future fan, so when they put out an animated show to extend the brand, I checked it out. Most people I’ve mentioned this to have no memory of the show, which isn’t surprising since it only lasted two seasons. But it was there that I first discovered Bill Nye, as the assistant to Christopher Lloyd’s Doc Brown.

Don’t believe me? Here’s a brief clip of a Lloyd/Nye segment from the show, complete with VHS tape noise.

My interest in the sciences was minimal as a child. I never really had a passion for the subject as it was always something I associated with “work”. That’s what it felt like in school. It was something I had to do because I was being graded on it.

With Bill Nye things were different. His way of sharing science wasn’t sterile. It was mysterious, as Nye filled his experiments with narratives and wonders. It was exciting and tapped into something powerful for me and the way I saw science.


Bill Nye was part of a shift in my life where I started seeing learning differently. The expanded definition I started to develop for learning was one that was separate from, though related to, teaching. Nye helped me, and countless others, tap into the power of curiosity. It transformed learning into something more than test-passing knowledge. Learning became a way of understanding and navigating the world. It’s through curiosity that we grow as individuals, and even as a species.

In a recent interview with BigThink, Nye brings the importance of curiosity down to that basic species level, explaining how curiosity literally kept our ancestors alive. He also links this need for curiosity to the ability to innovate. Here’s my favorite quote from the interview:

Human curiosity is how you discover things and that’s how we innovate. That’s what keeps humans in the game.

We’re excited to be welcoming Bill Nye as the featured keynote at the Learning Solutions Conference and Expo in March 2016, where he’ll be sharing his passion for curiosity and exploring the role it plays in learning and education.

To learn more about the conference and how you can join us in Orlando this spring, visit

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