Celebrity visitor thrills aquarium’s intern

Mon, 08/19/2019 - 10:30am

    “Pinch me, pinch me,” exclaimed intern Sophie Manning when her childhood idol came through the door of the Maine State Aquarium. Clad in street clothes, instead of his signature powder blue, lab coat and bow tie, “Bill Nye the Science Guy” had come to the Department of Marine Resources to learn about lobsters.

    After he entered the aquarium, it didn’t take long for word to spread among visitors that Bill Nye was in their presence. After a quick walk-through of the exhibits, he was whisked to the wet-lab where he could learn about Maine’s famous crustacean in peace and quiet. He seemed fascinated with their anatomy, behaviors and color patterns. However, he was extremely interested to learn about their habitat and the effects of climate change on them and their fishery.

    Manning and aquarist Beth Langton took the lead in educating him about lobsters. Manning was starstruck. As a millennial, she had grown up watching Bill Nye on television at school and at home. Through his show, he had taught her so many things about the world of science and now it was her turn to teach him. So, what was that like?

    Manning said, “It was pretty cool to be on the flip side. I was able to share my knowledge about lobsters with him using the hands-on approach. I showed him the difference between male and female lobsters, talked about the amount of pressure exerted by a lobster’s crusher claw, and answered his other questions.”

    Manning, a recent graduate of the University of Maine at Farmington, attributes her love of science to Bill Nye. In his approach to teaching, he uses props, wacky experiments, cheesy animations and sound effects to effectively explain scientific concepts. His methods of making science meaningful and entertaining truly sparked Manning’s curiosity and her desire to follow in his footsteps. She feels Bill Nye has influenced her teaching style and that she, too, will find fun ways for her students to understand science.

    Next week, Manning begins her first teaching job, at Biddeford Middle School as a sixth grade science teacher. She will have quite the story to share with students should they ask her, “What did you do on your summer vacation?”