By Abby Laub
Scientist Jason Lindsey routinely blows things up, burns things, creates super bubbles, builds gadgets and makes enormous messes—all in a day’s work.
“To spread my love for science is pretty awesome,” he said. “And it’s just fun. How many people get to go to school and blow up watermelons? You’ve got to do what you love.”
The Hooked on Science founder and executive director is a science educator and is spreading his passion for the subject one experiment at a time.
Born and raised in Bowling Green, Lindsey said his parents kept him inquisitive as a youngster and encouraged him to “think outside the box, and take things apart and put them back together.”
Lindsey admits he’s been hooked on science from an early age and went to college at Western Kentucky University to study meteorology, climatology and journalism. He began his career as a television weather forecaster.
“After visiting a lot of the schools and doing weather programs and seeing that there really wasn’t enough science being taught in the classroom, I decided to start Hooked on Science,” he said.
Now he travels all over the state doing hands-on science experiments, encouraging kids to get excited about science and learn the subject in fun, new ways. His school experiments dovetail with state science standards, and he often visits fourth- and seventh-grade classrooms, where students are tested in science.
“America continues to fall behind in science. There are other countries doing much better than us,” Lindsey said. “We have to think outside the box; we have to get rid of the textbook.”
He said he loves seeing it “click” in the classroom as he leads students through a lesson based on a fun experiment.
Lindsey calls himself a “cheerleader for science” in schools, and kids often call him Mr. Science or The Science Guy.
Hooked on Science is becoming so popular he even is traveling outside of Kentucky and has been around much of the United States with his program. But he said he tries to focus on the state testing to help teachers get kids up to speed on their requirements and not waste precious classroom time.
In addition to the school program, Lindsey has a television segment shown in several states called “Hooked on Science”; a newspaper experiment of the week column; a “radioactive” radio show on WRIK-FM that reaches western Kentucky, southern Illinois, southeast Missouri and west Tennessee; online experiments at hookedonscience.org; and even a printed monthly science newsletter. Lindsey said he is taking science experiments to a multimedia platform and that the feedback is phenomenal.
“It’s working; it’s making a difference,” he said, adding that for the most part the video segments he produces are experiments for people to try at home or school.
At his home, there are still plenty of science experiments going on. The father of four young children, Lindsey joked that his kids are his guinea pigs. He said his kids love science. The hands-on approach they have grown up with has helped raise their curiosity levels, and he wishes the U.S. could get to a similar level. Lindsey said he believes a big part of the problem is an overemphasis on testing and teaching to the test.
“I do realize we have to be held accountable at our schools, but I think that whole concept needs to be reworked,” he said. “And I don’t think parents are doing enough at home. I think parents should rally for their kids’ education and be proactive.”
At the Lindsey household in Paducah, anything goes.
“Sometimes it does make a mess, but you clean it up and allow them to explore,” he said. “We get caught up in ‘don’t mess up your room; don’t cut your sister’s hair.’ I say, encourage exploration so they can learn from it as long as they’re not getting harmed or hurt ... We have stepped away from the hands-on approach.”
Lindsey said his favorite subject is physical science, but all of the sciences still intrigue him, and he encourages others to always seek to learn new things.
And while the kids in school may love to see him coming, Lindsey said school janitors sometimes cringe at the sight of him loaded with messy objects walking through the school hallways. But they’re relieved when he cleans up after his experiments, particularly the ones involving flying wet toilet paper—a crowd favorite for the kids.
— Abby Laub