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Bill Kuhl (The Science Guy)

FEBRUARY 09, 2012

Science is at the root of everything we do on this planet, it is imperative that young people are equipped with the skills to prosper in a world that is increasingly complex. It is my hope that more science-type projects are done at home and in out- of- school programs.

My interest in science started with an early interest in aviation. I can remember my family stopping at the local airport after going out for Sunday morning breakfast. My father had thoughts of buying an airplane but never did. He did buy a plastic U-control plane and I pushed it around the floor so much that the plastic tank cracked. It was repaired and my dad did manage to fly it until he was completely dizzy, the lines that came with it were really short.

When I was probably around 7 or 8 I built a couple rubber powered free flight planes and simple gliders but none flew very well from what I can remember. At around 10 years of age I started building and flying U-control model planes powered by the Cox .049 glow engines with my friends. We also built and launched some Estes rockets. By age 13 I was flying radio control model planes as were my friends.

Somewhere in early adulthood I gave up the model airplanes for a period, partly because I was busy with college. I finished up a degree in Computer Science at Winona State University in 1988 and have worked in computers ever since then. When I started working for the City of Winona where I work presently, someone got me interested in model radio control car racing, at the same time I decided I would get back in to model airplanes. Through the model car racing I would meet Kevin Guy who owned a model car racetrack in Rochester Minnesota and would later start the Fuel My Brain program in conjunction with his hobby shop Everything Hobby.

Through my new interest in model airplanes I would meet Floyd Richards who was an expert in indoor free flight airplanes. Floyd was a wonderful mentor and I became rather proficient in building and flying the delicate indoor airplanes. I also started going to contests in Minnetonka Minnesota and started winning after the first couple of contests. We also began flying radio control gliders together and I started competing in that. The highlight would be when I received a third place trophy in 2-meter division at a huge contest in Arizona the winter of 2001

Informal Teaching

From my background in model aviation I would teach model airplane building or help with classes for various groups such as scouts, community education and College for Kids. The popularity grew, and one year I helped with a program for the local parks and recreation that had a summer camp for model planes and rockets. Someone taught the rocket portion using the solid fuel rockets but I thought that was too expensive, that is when I discovered water rockets. From then on a pattern seemed to be developing of me coming up with cheap projects that could be used for youth groups, next was kites.

Focusing on Science

Another amazing opportunity came in December of 2008 when the educational division of Academy of Model Aeronautics invited me to join them at a National Science Teachers Associational regional convention in Cincinnati Ohio. In addition to helping at their booth I was exposed to a huge variety of science activities from all the vendors in the huge auditorium.

It was after that in 2009 that I would launch my ScienceGuyOrg website which started out as a way to showcase science videos. I happened to add a category for mousetrap cars and noticed how popular the videos were. Like so often in the past I had to pursue this farther so I put in an order to Doc Fizzix. I learned much from the kits and the Doc Fizzix book, "Mousetrap Car Secrets to Success". The first mousetrap car I would design was built from bamboo skewers and used cottage cheese container lids, it worked pretty well. After that I would try more ideas, using balsa for the chassis and later foam. On my website I created a general information article about mousetrap cars that would be the most popular segment of my website by a big margin as well as two YouTube videos about mousetrap cars.

Even More Variety in Projects

Another person from the past would become a big influence in me creating even more projects and presenting them to kids, that was Kevin Guy. Kevin would branch from the model race car track to open a hobby shop and then started the Fuel My Brain program. We have been building projects the second Saturday of the month for over one year now. It just happens the first class was mousetrap cars but we have also done water rockets, electric motors, catapults, kites, model airplanes, model solar cars, and model wind turbines.

My Thoughts on Importance of Science

Science is at the root of everything we do on this planet, it is imperative that young people are equipped with the skills to prosper in a world that is increasingly complex. There appears to be more emphasis in schools on science lately but it is my hope that more science-type projects are done at home and in out- of- school programs.

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