Zap2it: How do you like doing the live-action science segments in the otherwise animated ‘Ready Jet Go!’ as it premieres Monday (Feb. 15) on PBS?
Dr. Amy Mainzer: It’s funny. I come from a family of artists and teachers, so to me, the people who do art and are in the arts are what I think of as “normal.” They’re who I grew up with, right? When I was a kid, I had a book on Greek mythology, like a little kiddie book with a lot of cartoons. And back in those days, of course, we used to use encyclopedias. Remember those?
And libraries. I went to the library because my mom took me, and I looked up Andromeda in an encyclopedia, and you always get two definitions: You get the mythological figure, but you also get this beautiful galaxy. I distinctly remember seeing some of those pictures in the encyclopedia at the library when I was really little and thinking, “I’ve got to find out more about that. Whatever that is, it’s pretty cool.
Zap2it: Are you happy with the way ‘Ready Jet Go!’ has turned out overall?
Dr. Amy Mainzer: This is the show that I would have wanted to have when I was a kid. This was the show I was looking for but couldn’t find, and it was really lucky that I had a very supportive mom. As I like to say, my mom knows probably more about liquid helium than a lot of physics graduate students do, because she was a great listener. It just goes to show you don’t have to have parents and family who are in the sciences, or who are in engineering, to produce somebody who goes on to become a STEM professional … science, technology, engineering and math.
The goal with this show is to basically get kids excited about the world around them so that they love science. And they don’t have to become scientists. The goal is to have them become scientifically literate citizens who appreciate the planet that we live on, and who are excited about learning for all of their lives.