Kids Can Do Science Experiments With Bill Nye in a New Airbnb Experience

Science has never mattered more and so Bill Nye wants to help kids to dive into learning about coronavirus, racism, and climate change.

Bill Nye the Science Guy on a patterned background
Photo: Illustration by Francesca Spatola; Airbnb (1)

In a year where science has never been more important and parents have never been more in need of a break, Bill Nye is here to help. Through one of Airbnb's brand-new educational experiences that take kids on virtual "Field Trips," the Science Guy will take kids through experiments on the biggest topics of the year: coronavirus, racism, and climate change.

The Airbnb Field Trips aim to help fill kids' time for those who aren't in physical school with including Olivia Wilde hosting a “Socially Conscious Story Hour" and more than 75 other virtual activities around the world such as a leopard safari in Sri Lanka and a pastry baking class in France.

Or science projects with the Science Guy himself. Nye wants to get kids engaged at home. "There's nothing more fun or cool or interesting than science," he says. "About half of what we learn about science, we learn outside of the classroom."

Nye knows it isn't easy for parents taking on school at home, and some things can fall through the cracks. "I'm open-minded, but I don't think you can keep up with your algebra 3 or precalculus. With most parents [acting as teachers at home], I don't think you're gonna be able to keep up with that," he explains. But he sees nontraditional schooling as an opportunity for different kinds of thinking and exploring the world around us. "As far as fundamental science about these really important ideas, I think all students everywhere can learn something."

And the good news is parents can help make this happen.

Start Conversations About Science

With so many scientific topics affecting every day life right now, there are endless opportunities to catch kids' curiosity.

"I am hopeful that with kids being stuck at home, having to, as my father would say, 'entertain themselves,' they are going to make discoveries about the world that they might not have otherwise made," he says. "Let kids mess around, that's my advice, and try to extract science out of everything around them."

And the stakes have never been higher, with everyone relying on scientists studying the coronavirus and possible solutions. "This is a real opportunity to talk about genetics and vaccines," says Nye.

The only way to get through the pandemic is with science, Nye points out. "We're not going to get through the pandemic with wishful thinking and saying everything's OK, pretending it's not a problem and saying that 200,000 [deaths in the U.S.] is a small number."

Motivate Kids to Do Their Own Research

Misinformation is at an all-time high, with conspiracy theories and downright lies floating around about coronavirus. Nye says kids should practice their critical thinking skills every time they hear a claim about COVID-19.

"When I was in school, it might have been called logic or reasoning. It's the same thing, just evaluating evidence," explains Nye. "It's learning how to evaluate evidence when somebody tells you that if you drink hot tea, you won't get coronavirus. No, that's wrong. That's not right. Evaluate that."

And the same goes for sussing out claims of whether or not the virus is even real. Nye compares evaluating scientific claims about coronavirus to the once-revolutionary idea that the Earth is round. "That's an extraordinary claim: How do you know the world is round? And then you can go down an amazing, fascinating road to discover how we know the world is round."

Kids can study biology to see how masks can prevent germs from traveling through the air (as Nye covered in a pair of viral TikToks) or even big topics such as race. With younger ones, you can examine the way humans have different skin colors by how much ultraviolet light hits different parts of the Earth's surface. "You can prove scientifically that we are all one species," Nye says. "Humans are all the same thing." And then parents can build off that understanding to teach kids about systemic racism.

Encourage Them to Create Change

Nye points out that kids are already on the cutting edge of social change around racism and environmentalism. "I think kids are gonna think it's great when we stop driving, gas-powered cars, when we stop burning fossil fuel to make a living, when we celebrate these new ways to produce electricity and include more people."

So even in this stressful year marked by a pandemic, wildfires, and police brutality, Nye is hopeful for the future. "There are also discoveries that can be made that can get us out of this and make a better world," he says. "So why aim low? Let's have a field trip, and change the world. Come on everybody, that'll be fun."

Nye's Airbnb Experience "Decoding The Science of 2020" will take place on October 2. The Field Trip costs $100 and proceeds go to The Planetary Society, a space science and exploration nonprofit.

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