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2017 Obsessions

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This year, I spent a lot of time thinking about the role of public broadcasting in teaching science.

Growing up in the ’90s, some of my favorite people in the world were Bill Nye, Cookie Monster, and Wishbone. That definitely did NOT make me one of the cooler kids at school, who got to chat about cable TV shows I knew nothing about.

But hey, my buddy Bill gave me the crazy idea that science was fun. Wishbone instilled in me a love of reading. And Sesame Street legit taught me, a new immigrant kid from the Philippines, how to speak English.

Now I write about the environment, with a special focus on all the nerdy, science-y, but supremely important environmental stuff that impacts kids in marginalized communities. Those are the kids who might rely on things like public broadcasting to close educational gaps — just like I did. It helped me get to where I am today.

So when Bill Nye resurfaced in 2017 in a big way — with a new series on Netflix and in a new documentary about the man behind the bow tie, I was obsessed. In the film, he meets YouTubers taking the torch when it comes to making fun, open-to-anyone educational videos. It’s all part of his quest to protect science education and keep it accessible to kids. And what makes the documentary even cooler for me? It’s on PBS.

Justine Calma is a Grist fellow.