Even if you have to use reverse psychology, get your kids to watch the reincarnation of Carl Sagan's famous show, Cosmos, this Sunday, March 9. It could be the most influential show for young minds this decade.
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.
I found Carl Sagan's COSMOS series to be absolutely glacier after watching James Burke's CONNECTIONS series. Burke covered so much material that repeated viewings were necessary (and just as enjoyable) to pick up on everything he covered. Sagan, on the other hand had me shouting at the TV, "Get to the (bleep)ing point, Carl!" as I tried to watch him set up a single example about selective genetics that seemed to take 15 minutes or more. I know it was less, but Carl managed to make time crawl, whereas James was a firehose of information in the same time.
I'm hoping Neil deGrasse Tyson will not think he has to dumb it down for the slowest kid in the class.
I like the reverse psychology, particularly works very well with my kid. On the same lines, how often we see Nobel ceremonies/ Field medal awards, Engineering milestone celebrations as compared to VMA, Oscars, Golden globe, and a million other 2-dimensional world awards.
The culture is completely show business, ironically the latest and the greatest marvels are happening right in front our eyes which we do not recognize it in a grand sense. Hopefully this program will steer back to cosmic ownership.
Finally CS was classic, I was too young to understand. I am optimistic with Neil from what he has done on propaganda.
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.
@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.
@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.
The one enduring image I have of Cosmos was Sagan sitting in a dining hall at Cambridge University, having a very fancy pie delivered, cutting into it, and intoning "If you want to make an apple pie from scratch you have to invent the universe."
Oh yes, and the oft-repeated "Billions and Billions."
Hopefully Tyson will be better able to capture this short attention span generation.
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?"
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.