matt (hbergeronx) wrote,

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RIP Mr Wizard.

Mr. Wizard, for those who have the misfortune of not having seen him, didn’t popularize science through graphics or songs or any of the trappings of, say, Bill Nye. He didn’t play the “weird scientist” character like on Beakman’s World. All of that stuff tends to “other” the material from the audience. No, he just brought children — actors to be sure, but still children — into a lab that looked more like a cross between a kitchen and a basement workshop than anything else. Here they’d actually run through a series of demonstrations. And it wasn’t just “here’s this, then that”. No, he walked through the train of thought through the episode, coming back over and over to “what do you think will happen?” and “why?” — the two questions which define science.

And I very specifically say “children” rather than “boys”. In fact not only did he keep the gender balance equal, he made a point of using the girls for more of the episodes that looked more workshoppy and the boys for more of the episodes that looked more kitcheny. And this in 1951, no less. Susie gets the blowtorch and Johnny gets the saucepan.

-- eulogy for Don "Mr. Wizard" Herbert, by John Armstrong,

"He modeled how to predict and measure and analyze. ... The show today might seem slow but it was in-depth and forced you to think along," Jacobs said. "You were learning about the forces of nature."

Herbert encouraged children to duplicate experiments at home, said Jacobs, who recounted serving as a behind-the-scenes "science sidekick" to Herbert on the '80s "Mr. Wizard's World" that aired on the Nickelodeon channel.

When Jacobs would reach for beakers and flasks, Herbert would remind him that science didn't require special tools.

"'You could use a mayonnaise jar for that,'" Jacobs recalled being chided by Herbert. "He tried to bust the image of scientists and that science wasn't just for special people and places."

-- from

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