Bill Nye the Science Guy explains how reinvigorating basic research and development in our schools resulted in the acronym STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), and why new acronyms are emerging.

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Transcript – Sam Passer: Hi Bill Nye this is Sam Passer. And my question for you is, as an art student myself, do I have to choose between art and science for our next generations to thrive or can art and science coexist? Please let me know. Thanks.

Bill Nye: Sam! Sam! Sam! Art and science have to coexist. They’re both human endeavors. However, just keep in mind I am a science guy and like this that science, this process that humans have developed seems to be, to my way of thinking, the best idea we’ve had, the best idea we’ve had about how to know nature, how to know our place in the world, in the cosmos. But without art we would hardly be people. Art is created by people and it inspires each of us. It’s the way we send messages. It’s the way we motivate each other or keep each other from doing something. Art is part of us. We don’t want art or science, we want to both. With that said, a little commentary about our current controversy in education in the United States, everybody goes on and on with this acronym STEM, STEM, STEM, STEM, STEM: science, technology, engineering and math. And this is a fine acronym. It talks about or it was created to address what was a clear need here in the United States after people landed on the moon, investment in basic research was curtailed, except in the military spending. And so we stopped, the United States stopped doing as much basic research as it had been doing and so to reinvigorate this people created this acronym and there’s all these science, technology, engineering and math programs in school. It’s good. It’s good. Now people talk about STEAM: science, technology, engineering, art and math. Well good. Yes. And I’ve heard STEAMD: science, technology, engineering, art, math and design. Okay. Pretty soon the acronym is going to have all the letters that we would call the school, just school. You go to school and you’ve got to have math; you’ve got to have language arts, English in my case and the United States were English is the primary language; you’ve got to have a history; you got to have a – I’d like us to have civics about the U.S. Constitution and the behavior and the way the government is created; and we’ve got to have art; you got to have science. Yes. We’ve got to have all of that. But this tacking stuff on this acronym that became so popular, STEM, is okay, everybody but let’s not forget we got to do everything. It’s not one or the other. Please, it’s not one or the other.

Learn the process of science. You don’t have to become a scientist full-time or an engineer full-time. And for those of you who love science and engineering I hope you pursue some art and learn some art and how to create art yourself and appreciate it. It’s what makes us people. Go for it.
Video Rating: / 5

There must be science and math protocols.

David Pogue: It’s a bigger problem than I know what to say. Obviously it’s a priority issue. I don’t know how you translate that. Is it something on the parenting level? Is it something to do with funding? Is it set from the very top? Is it a Presidential thing? I don’t really know.
There’s a lot of smart people working on the problem, but all I know is that the problem exists and it distresses me personally.
I do not come across a lot of tech-savvy women. Year after year after year, it’s the same thing. The PR people are women, and if I have a question they’ll pass me along to the male engineers who can answer the question. I don’t know if there’s a built-in bias in the system, or if there might just be an inclination. I know this will generate tons of letters but, you know, it may be that fewer women are interested. I don’t know.
At one point, I wrote in a column [for the New York Times] the fact that older people generally have a harder time adapting to new technologies than younger people, which I think was as safe a generalization as one could possibly make. But of course I heard from all these old people, like, “How dare you? You know, I can use a Blackberry with the best of ’em.” But it’s a generalization. It doesn’t mean that every single person is in that category. Yes, I know that.
But I know as a 45-year-old it’s harder for me to pick up new things than when I was 20. Again, I’ve been a computer tutor my entire life and I can see it in the ages of people that I teach. So I still believe that’s true. So politically uncorrect [sic] as it may be, it may be true that there are differences between older people and younger people, and between men and women.
Recorded on: May 15, 2008.

David Pogue: It’s a bigger problem than I know what to say. Obviously it’s a priority issue. I don’t know how you translate that. Is it something on the parenting level? Is it something to do with funding? Is it set from the very top? Is it a Presidential thing? I don’t really know.
There’s a lot of smart people working on the problem, but all I know is that the problem exists and it distresses me personally.
I do not come across a lot of tech-savvy women. Year after year after year, it’s the same thing. The PR people are women, and if I have a question they’ll pass me along to the male engineers who can answer the question. I don’t know if there’s a built-in bias in the system, or if there might just be an inclination. I know this will generate tons of letters but, you know, it may be that fewer women are interested. I don’t know.
At one point, I wrote in a column [for the New York Times] the fact that older people generally have a harder time adapting to new technologies than younger people, which I think was as safe a generalization as one could possibly make. But of course I heard from all these old people, like, “How dare you? You know, I can use a Blackberry with the best of ’em.” But it’s a generalization. It doesn’t mean that every single person is in that category. Yes, I know that.
But I know as a 45-year-old it’s harder for me to pick up new things than when I was 20. Again, I’ve been a computer tutor my entire life and I can see it in the ages of people that I teach. So I still believe that’s true. So politically uncorrect [sic] as it may be, it may be true that there are differences between older people and younger people, and between men and women.
Recorded on: May 15, 2008.
Video Rating: / 5