Neil deGrasse Tyson Talks Asteroid Physics & “Non Newtonian Solids” with Inspiring 9‑Year-Old Student

Just this week, some new test results showed that Amer­i­can teens, com­pared to oth­er stu­dents world­wide, “failed to reach the top 20 in math, sci­ence or read­ing,” accord­ing to The Guardian. After­wards, Arne Dun­can, the U.S. Sec­re­tary of Edu­ca­tion, called the results a “pic­ture of edu­ca­tion­al stag­na­tion.”

The results are deflat­ing. But maybe we should­n’t lose hope, not when we have kids like Jacob com­ing of age, and teach­ers like Neil deGrasse Tyson men­tor­ing him along. Speak­ing last month at Grand Val­ley State Uni­ver­si­ty in Michi­gan, Tyson field­ed a ques­tion — the last ques­tion of the night —  from a nine-year-old ele­men­tary school stu­dent named Jacob. To para­phrase, Jake want­ed to know why we could­n’t shoot a “chunk of ran­dom mate­r­i­al” at a hypo­thet­i­cal aster­oid and stop it from hit­ting earth. This ends up being the first of a two-part ques­tion, which leads Jacob to demon­strate physics con­cepts with his clip­board and debate whether these fly­ing objects share prop­er­ties with “non-New­ton­ian solids.” Yes, I’m feel­ing a lit­tle bet­ter about the Amer­i­can edu­ca­tion­al sys­tem, espe­cial­ly since Jake’s dad con­firms on YouTube that his son attends “great pub­lic schools.”

You can find Neil’s com­plete GVSU talk here.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Neil deGrasse Tyson Lists 8 (Free) Books Every Intel­li­gent Per­son Should Read

Physics: Free Online Cours­es from Great Uni­ver­si­ties

Christo­pher Hitchens Cre­ates a Read­ing List for Eight-Year-Old Girl

Free Com­ic Books Turns Kids Onto Physics: Start With the Adven­tures of Niko­la Tes­la

200 Free Kids Edu­ca­tion­al Resources: Video Lessons, Apps, Books, Web­sites & More

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