Science has taken a back burner to pop culture in the past 20 years or so. Look at the people our children revere. You'll find pop stars, movie stars, sports figures, and reality-show participants. What is sadly missing from our children's idols are the scientists. Science used to be cool. We had astronauts blasting into space and our living rooms on TV. There were TV shows for kids that highlighted science in a cool way. Now, the closest we have is Mythbusters, which is quite enjoyable but can clearly be focused more on footage than facts.
I tried showing my children the show Cosmos with Carl Sagan. Unfortunately, it was a bit dated, and my kids found Sagan more weird than endearing. Luckily, Cosmos is being reintroduced with fresh new visualizations and a new host for younger crowds. Starting this Sunday you'll be able to bask in the glory of the science of our universe with the incredibly charismatic Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson as the host.
Please, if you've got kids, get them to watch this. Kids who are enamored with science become engineers.
I would like to offer two approaches to getting your kids to watch the show. Pick whichever you think would work best in your situation.
Option 1: Reverse psychology
"Cosmos is totally stupid. Don't even bother watching it. All of the parents in the neighborhood were thinking of officially protesting it. Horrible nonsense, don't even think about it."
This method might be the most effective tactic for many of you. Actually, even if the others sound workable, this one is almost guaranteed to get the result you want. You're reading this article aren't you?
Option 2: Honesty
"This show looks insanely good. It appears to be a perfect mix of education and entertainment. Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson is charismatic and, quite frankly, the only person suited to fulfill this role. You'll love it and I'd love to share it with you."
While I do believe honesty is the best policy, this method may only earn you some eye rolls and sighs. Not recommended.
Well, I'm happy to say it wasn't too shabby. The pace wasn't bad at all. Looking forward to seeing the rest.
I was glad to see they tackled religion head on. It seems we're in one of those "science is just another belief system and religion is equally valid" phases in our culture. Maybe this will enlighten a few impressionable minds.
@BrainiacVI: If you haven't read his adventure walking the AppalachianTrail, you will enjoy it.
I think I've read just about all of his stuff -- I love the "Letters from a Small Island" about his time in England, and his "Sunburned Country" about his visits to Australia. Also his "I'm a Stranger Here Myself" and his othe rbooks about returning to America.
@BrainiacV1: I loved the example he gave of a student saying how dumb people were to believe the sun circled the Earth and the teacher countered with...
Have you read Bill Bryson's "A Brief History of Nearly Everything"? H ediscussed all sorts of thing slike this, such as how the ancients kept on re-evaluating the age of the Earth as they discovered news information -- it's one of my all-time favorite books.
Part1: Purposely get the show's name wrong. It's not "Cosmos presented by Neil de Grasse Tyson", it's "well, can't remember, Tyson vs the Universe or something like that?" and let them (mis-)guess it has something to do with Mike Tyson destroying something/someone in a blood bath.
Part2: Once in front of the TV, miss the generic and put them directly in front of the show. "Oh crap! We couldn't hear the introduction. I don't know when we'll get to see the interesting part. Let's just wait for it to come!". Now your kids are paying attention.
Part3: "What? Mike Tyson? No idea. Maybe next week?"
I have Connections 1,2, and 3. I felt he slowed down in the later series (I called it "the Sagan Effect"), possibly feeling he had gone too fast in the earlier series.
I thought his "The Day the Universe Changed" series was excellent as well. Connections dealt with the non-linear development of inventions, TDtUC dealt with our perception of the universe, like the change from Earth centric to heliocentric for the planets. I loved the example he gave of a student saying how dumb people were to believe the sun circled the Earth and the teacher countered with "Imagine what it would have looked like if it had been that way." The point being it would have looked exactly the same. So how we came to sort out reality was important.