In July 2014 on TOS Blog, I interviewed Keith Schacht, a cofounder of Mystery Science, then a brand-new startup in the field of science education. Here I chat with the company’s other cofounder, Doug Peltz, to gain some further perspective on their mission, their approach to education, and their progress to date. —Daniel Wahl
Daniel Wahl: Hi, Doug. I’m grateful for the chance to talk with you about Mystery Science, which I’ve been using with my son—and which he loves.
Doug Peltz: Thanks, I’m so glad to hear that, and excited to be talking with you.
Wahl: Before we dive into the details and virtues of Mystery Science, how did you become interested in science? And what is your earliest memory of being fascinated by something in the field?
Peltz: When I was six years old my family took a driving trip through the American West. Like any child, I asked questions from the time that I could speak. But this was different. On that trip, I saw and smelled the boiling, sulfurous hot springs of Yellowstone. I saw mountain goats in the Badlands of South Dakota. I stood on the slopes of Mount St. Helens just seven years after it had erupted. These experiences really stirred my curiosity, especially coming from the flat, “topographically challenged” plains of Illinois.
I went back and watched old home movies of that trip, and realized something wonderful about my parents: how earnestly they always took my questions. I would ask so many questions—I was practically badgering them! Yet they were tireless and encouraging. It was because of my parents that I learned two life lessons worth conveying to every child: First, the world around me is full of amazing wonders waiting for me to explore; and second, everything has an explanation.
Wahl: Which scientists inspired you growing up? And which do you most revere today?
Peltz: There are several, so I’ll just tell you about one of my favorites. As a child I found this old book series in the school library called Childhood of Famous Americans, which I enjoyed. That’s when I first learned about Thomas Edison. Most people just know him for the lightbulb, but he also invented the electrical power that makes lightbulbs practical in the first place, and thus made practical the entire realm of electrical appliances and devices. . . .
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1. “Could a Volcano Pop Up in Your Backyard?,” http://mysteryscience.com/rocks/mystery-1/volcanoes/53.