Rest In Piece Mr. Wizard

The scene was all too familiar in the household of my youth, running home after school, my book laden backpack swinging side to side and the sun filtering through the trees speckling the ground. I had scarce little time to spare as such animated adventures as Ducktales or Transformers were just waiting to be given entrance into my living room, and I couldn’t be late.

But don’t fool yourself into thinking that cartoons filled my afternoon entertainment. Far from it. Eventually a growing young egghead like me had to flip to Nickelodeon if for no other reason than to hear that familiar jingle and watch the show that, at least in my mind, taught America’s youth science.

Mr. Wizards World was ahead of its time both back in the fifties in its original form, and in the eighties when I watched it. The show I remembered had average kids visiting Mr. Wizard not in some fantastic castle as his name would reply and not in some strange laboratory as the scientific nature of his show would seem to necessitate.

Instead it took place in his home, and unlike all the “extreme” stuff you see on the tv nowadays, at least the tricks you saw on Mr. Wizard were definitely the kind you could try at home. In fact that is what made the show so great. One experiment, and Mrs. M does this to Mr. M all the time, simply pointed out a big difference between men and women. He asked a boy to sit in a chair, and asked his female friend to put her fingers on his forhead. Mr. Wizard than asked the boy to stand.

He couldn’t.

When roles were reversed, the girl stood as easily as anything. A scientific experiment done sans beakers and labcoats and textbooks.

With the setting often his home and the science tools he used often empty jelly jars or gas cans, Mr. Wizard was able to teach America’s youth science, and get them excited about it.

So when I learned that Don Herbert had passed away, it was a pretty severe blow. He did, I think, so much for the youth of the time, and made way for such shows of today as Bill Nuy the Science Guy.

And now I know my children will grow up just a little less richer without Mr. Wizard in their life. My most heartfelt condolences go out to his family, and I wish to thank his family for the contribution that Mr. Herbert made not only in my life but also in the lives of the millions of children who watched him, learned from him, and became better people because of him.

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