Win a Chance to Have Bill Nye Take Over Your Science Class

Bill Nye possesses a power that millions of adults lack. It's something like the Midas touch, only instead of transforming everyday objects into gold, he morphs the boring into the cool. That's no simple task.

Just ask any plucky teacher who’s stood in front of a sea of blank sixth-grade stares after performing a rap about William Howard Taft. Hey, it seemed like a good idea at the time. It’s not always easy to make learning fun, which explains why for nearly 20 years, science teachers across the globe have been keeping their rap careers under wraps and tagging in Bill Nye instead. Now The Science Guy is teaming up with learning site Sophia to offer one lucky classroom the chance to win 30 iPads and a visit from Bill Nye himself.

The contest, called Flipping for Sophia, isn’t just a giveaway. It’s also an event. Everyone who enters to win will receive one free ticket to an online presentation hosted by Bill Nye. The science guru will discuss the flipped classroom, emerging teaching models and in-classroom communication. He’ll also thrill the audience with the kind the beaker-bubbling, electricity-sparking, explosion-generating experiments that have made him the official arbiter of scientific cool.

Understanding Science with Sophia

So what exactly is Sophia? In short, it’s an online learning tool. Like social curation site Learnist, Sophia helps educators and students gather helpful articles, diagrams and tutorials from every corner of the internet and paste them neatly in one easy-to-access spot. This concept isn’t exactly new, but Sophia’s rating system is.

“Learning packets” are reviewed by education experts and degree-holders in each field before Sophia stamps them with the label of “academically sound.” Users can weigh in too, with a five-star rating system that makes locating lessons on the spectrum of life-changing to snooze-worthy all the more easy. “There’s a ton of good information on the web, but it’s hard to find,” Sophia CEO Don Smithmier told Mashable. “And part of it is that if you don’t already know what you’re doing, it’s hard to evaluate the good from the bad.”

Using Sophia to Make Learning Fun

Sophia and Bill Nye both have the same mission — to make learning fun. To accomplish that goal, Sophia offers a whole host of perks and tools for eager educators and learners. Here are just a few:

  • Certifications. Sophia users can earn certifications on the site on topics ranging from CPR to Flipped Classrooms.
  • Pathways. Sophia Pathways are free guided lessons that teach complex concepts from start to finish.
  • Playlists. Create and share “learning playlists” with Sophia users to make learning fun and easy.
  • Tutorials. Bill Nye’s tutorials teach everything from the basics of symmetry to what makes popcorn pop, but he isn’t the only one offering insights — experts of all stripes share tutorials on Sophia.
  • Editor. Build and publish your own tutorials with Sophia’s easy tutorial editor.
  • Groups. Form a learning group and invite your friends. Then explore, learn and discuss together.

These tools pack some serious punch, but by far the best part of Sophia is the overwhelming amount of high-quality content it contains. We discovered lessons on everthing from the writing with the passive voice to touring Historical Minneapolis by bike. That’s no small range of topics.

If you’ve never explored Sophia, now is a great time to start. Begin by registering for the Flipping for Sophia event hosted by Bill Nye. You’ll discover new ways to make learning fun, and you might just transform yourself into a classroom hero in the process. Because kicking open the doors to your science lab with a shipment of iPads and Bill Nye in tow is the kind of entrance that isn’t easily forgotten.

Published September 24, 2012