Mr. Wizard – Pioneer of Science Teaching – Mr.Wizard’s Work, Is Alive and Well
188 Dapplegrey Rd. West Hills, CA 91307 (out)
Tom Nikosey –
by Michael Leppert
It is entirely possible that the tremendous interest in Science and Technology that mushroomed in the 1950s and gave the Space Race some of its best engineers and most avid lay fans, came from one man’s influence. That man was Don Herbert, aka “Mr. Wizard” of television fame and legend, who enthralled young viewers (and older ones) from 1951 to 1965, by introducing his first show ‘Watch Mr. Wizard’, and was called “America’s Favorite Science Teacher”. His second show, ‘Mr. Wizard’s World’ aired in the 1980s and pulled another generation into loving science and causing many to pursue careers in science – both as scientist and science teachers, who realized the value of Herbert’s captivating demonstrations of science principles as teaching models.
Mr. Wizard was like a ‘genius uncle’ who had all sorts of wondrous inventions in his basement and every chance you got to visit him, you couldn’t wait to see what new marvel he had to show you. He was like a homeschooling dad, slyly waiting to show you simple things like, why insects can walk on water and how to use static electricity to make your hair stand on end. Because of his relaxed demeanor, Mr. Wizard’s original T.V. program was warm and cozy and made many children in the 1950s want to soak up every bit of science knowledge this wonderful man could present. He would wend his way through the mysteries of science, always with a slight smile on his face, as if he knew the “wow’s” and “ooh’s” coming from the home viewers as the intrigue of his experiments unfolded. He made the wonders of electricity, the properties of sound and music, the power of combustion and hundreds more scientific concepts of our world, come alive in a way no one else had ever done.
Don Herbert was a pioneer in harnessing the power of television for teaching purposes as he single-handedly realized the idea of T.V. as a serious teaching medium – much as its early developers had hoped for. When politicians and school administrators bemoan the lack of interest in STEM that is shown by today’s American youth, it makes one think that we need Mr. Wizard to once again bring light to the airwaves and inspire the current generation.
The good news is, it is possible! Mr. Wizard Studios carries on the legacy of Mr. Wizard by offering a line of DVD editions of ‘Watch Mr.Wizard’, ‘Mr.Wizard’s World’ and ‘Mr.Wizard’s Science & Technology Reports’. Also available are his 2 best seller books, ‘Mr.Wizard’s Supermarket Science’ and ‘Mr.Wizard’s Experiments for Young Scientist’.
Visit the website and see all of their products and you might even wax nostalgic about the great times in your childhood watching Mr. Wizard’s magic. – MjL