Gratefulness: Mark Rober

Throughout the month of November, I want to take time to share about people or things I am grateful for over the past year. Previous entries: Jeremy Bouman, Public Libraries, Fuel Saver, Eric Carpenter, WellCare/Medicaid, That One Jimmy’s Egg Meal, Beth Katz & Lonnie Michael.

It started with making a pinewood derby car. Liam was entered into his first pinewood derby event and needed help making the car. More to the point, I needed help with showing him how to make a good car. So, I googled something and one of the top results was a Mark Rober video about how to make a pinewood derby car.

Mark Rober did a great job of explaining the basics of how to make a fast pinewood derby car. More so, the video was entertaining and educational to watch. He explained the science behind it in a way Liam could understand well. He was having fun with science. (And, he was wearing a Mike Tyson’s Punch Out t-shirt. Cool.)

We did our best to use the techniques Mark Rober showed, and Liam ended up finishing third in his division. (Yea!)

Because of the production quality of his video, and his background as a former NASA engineer (that worked on the Curiosity Mars Rover), I checked out more of his videos. Fun stuff like NASA Pumpkin Carving Contest and Hi-tech Halloween Costumes, to Best Guess Who Strategy, Snowball Machine Gun, and Drone Solar System Model.

I would show one of the videos to the boys, and as soon as we finished it they would want to see another Mark Rober video. Soon, it became a big deal in our house when a new video was uploaded to his YouTube channel. The boys would get excited and wonder what Mark would do next. I loved it because the videos are entertaining, but also Mark is presenting science in a fantastic way. The boys see how it is involved throughout our lives. How so? Three fun examples:

  • Whenever we go to a pool now one of the boys will tell someone there about how much pee is probably in the pool by the chlorine smell we often associate with pools. (Video)
  • It’s easier to tell the boys “no” when they want money to try and win tickets or prizes at arcade/carnival games. (Video #1, Video #2)
  • And, in general, people are more honest than we might think. (Video)

Mark has also posted thoughtful videos about the importance of NASA, and how simple engineering is saving lives around the world.

Looking back on my own formal education, I rarely thought science was fun, engaging, or could change the world in a practical way. (My ninth grade Biology class taught by Mr. Ron Cisar being an exception.) Lots of memorizing facts, and standard student science experiments, but something that can inspire or get you to dream? For me, that wasn’t my experience.

Another reason it is important to me for my boys to appreciate science is there is a sizable faction of people inside (and outside) the Church who see science as bad. From the environment to vaccinations, I’ve talked to people who refuse to believe the tireless work of scientists on a range of topics. In evangelical circles, some Christians think science is out to undermine Christianity. I remember teachings on this when I was younger. It’s something I try and address with my boys, that science and faith are not at odds as some make it out to be.

Mark Rober’s videos have also led to us exploring other fun science videos on YouTube, like Destin Sandlin’s Smarter Every Day channel. (How does a cat land on all four legs?)

I have no idea what my boys will do someday, but for them to understand at a young age the importance, discovery, and possibilities with science makes me happy. Mark Rober has been influential with this, and for that I am grateful.

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