Bill Nye's Suggests Exciting STEM Experiments for under $20

The Science Guy also explains how his ballet invention can prevent surgery

In this interview, Bill Nye the Science Guy explains how his ballet shoe inventions will protect dancers from harm. He also comes up with some interesting STEM experiments to pique the interest of youth on a tight budget.

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Transcript For This Video
Dan Hedges: Hi, I'm Dan Hedges for ENGINEERING.com here at the USA Science and Engineering Festival with Bill Nye, the Science Guy. Bill, how are you doing?

Bill Nye: Fabulous, Dan, and you?

Dan Hedges: I'm doing very nicely. Welcome to the festival. So you were recently on Dancing with the Stars, dancing is something that's very near and dear to you; you're a very good swing dancer, I'm told.

Bill Nye: What's very good? Women don't mind dancing with me.

Dan Hedges: All right. [laughs]

Bill Nye: Most of them.

Dan Hedges: All right. So how was it, dancing on Dancing with the Stars?

Bill Nye: Oh, it was cool, but very disappointing. I tore my quadriceps' tendon so badly. How badly was it? I literally couldn't walk, which, you don't want that. Have you ever taken a red hot knitting needle and just stabbed yourself with it? I've never done that either.

Dan Hedges: If I had a nickel for every time I took a red hot knitting needle. [laughs]

Bill Nye: Yes, I've never done it, but I have a sense. And so, it's very disappointing in that regard, but my partner Tyne, Tyne Stecklein, is now-- they didn't have her back because they are always trying to fit the dancer with the partner, with the celebrity. So she's out dancing with Cher this semester, whatever we'd call it, this spring in school. She's charming.

Dan Hedges: Excellent. We have a crack research team here in ENGINEERING.com, and we went back into the archives and found that you actually have a patent, is this correct, for ballet toe shoes?

Bill Nye: Yes. It's one of these things you pursue for a while, then you get stymied, and then you set it aside; and so, it's set aside right now. We did a show on bones and muscles, the Science Guy show, and these young women, half dozen people, had these scars and stuff from all these surgeries; these people are like 19~22 years old. And so, I just realized that toe shoe hasn't changed in centuries, literally centuries. I will describe it like a sales guy. The Bill Nye Toe Shoe is to the old toe shoe as a Nike Air Jordan is to a Chuck Taylor Converse basketball.

Dan Hedges: Wow. That's it. That's quite a sales job.

Bill Nye: Yes, in other words, it's just more going on. It's got a thing to support your phalanges, you have to use Kevlar; they have to look like traditional shoes or nobody will go for them. So this is something I pursue once in a while, and then maybe we'll get back at it.

Dan Hedges: So your mechanical engineering background sort of helped out with the basis?

Bill Nye: That's all it is. It's all mechanical engineering, and maybe it'll come back around. Tyne, my partner from Dancing with the Stars, her main skills are in ballet, and she was very interested in it, but she's on the road, we'll see.

Dan Hedges: So I have a question that was submitted by a youth worker. Youth worker Tina Hang, she says, "If you had $20 to spend on a scientific experiment to get some kids in a low-income neighborhood really jazzed about science, what would you spend it on?"

Bill Nye: $20...

Dan Hedges: And it's her $20, by the way, it's not federal dollars.

Bill Nye: It always is, yes. Well, I'd get vinegar, baking soda and balloons. If you can get some empty 2 liter pop bottles, and then magnets, if you can get some magnets; but you can start spending money on magnets, and then grow some plants, and if you play your cards right you can get some Fast Plants, which is a br