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Tools and Woods with Bob Smalser

  Mr. Wizard, July 10, 1917 - June 12, 2007  

An inspiration in the why of it all.

Quote from En.Wikipedia.org

Donald Jeffrey Herbert (July 10, 1917 June 12, 2007), better known as "Mr. Wizard", was the host of two popular television shows about science aimed at children.

Herbert was a general science and English major at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse who was interested in drama, until his career as an actor was interrupted by World War II when he joined the United States Army as a private. He later became an officer and joined the United States Army Air Corps and became a B-24 bomber pilot who flew 56 missions with the Fifteenth Air Force and participated in the invasion of Italy. When Herbert was discharged in 1945 he was a captain and had earned the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters.

After the war, Herbert worked at a radio station in Chicago where he acted in children's programs such as It's Your Life (1949) that was a documentary health series. It was during this time that Herbert formulated the idea of Mr. Wizard and a general science experiments show that utilized the new medium of television. Herbert's idea was accepted by the Chicago NBC station and the series Watch Mr. Wizard premiered on March 3, 1951. The weekly 30-minute show featured Herbert as Mr. Wizard with a young assistant who watched while Herbert performed interesting science experiments. The experiments, many of which seemed impossible at first glance, were usually simple enough to be re-created by viewers. The show was very successful. 547 live episodes were created before it was canceled in 1965. Herbert won a Peabody Award for his work on the program.

After his show was canceled, Herbert produced films for junior and senior high schools, wrote several books on science, and developed a 1969 Mr. Wizard Science Center located outside Boston, which no longer exists.

The show Watch Mr. Wizard was briefly revived by NBC in the 1971-1972 season.

In 1983 Herbert developed Mr. Wizard's World, a faster-paced version of his show that was shown three times a week on the cable channel Nickelodeon. The show ran until 1990, and reruns were shown until 2000, making it the longest running show on Nickelodeon.

In 1994, Herbert developed another new series of 15-minute spots called Teacher to Teacher with Mr. Wizard. The spots highlighted individual elementary science teachers and their projects. The series was sponsored by the National Science Foundation and was shown on Nickelodeon.


Herbert won a Peabody Award for his work on Watch Mr. Wizard.

Three Thomas Alva Edison National Mass Media Awards.

In 1991, Herbert received the Robert A. Millikan award from the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) for his "notable and creative contributions to the teaching of physics."

Also from the author of Let's Build Boats

Let's Build Boats!  Styrofoam plates, cups, trays tape (plastic tape works best in water) straws (flexible) balloons (long, skinny, and round) pipe cleaners milk cartons bamboo skewers sponges egg cartons popsicle sticks fish bobbers, fishing line corks paper or plastic for sails string wood scraps nails foil glue (water-resistant and nontoxic, for use in joining items that are not tied, taped, or poked together. Avoid rubber cement, which is toxic for young children.) hammer.

Don Herbert, Mr. Wizard's Supermarket Science (New York: Random House, 1980), pp. 8-9.

Learn how. Discover why. Build better.


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