Discovery Channel scientist to open  Orkney Science Festival

The former chief scientist of television’s Discovery Channel, known as Wizard IV, is to open this year’s Orkney International Science Festival.

Prof. Steve ‘Jake’ Jacobs has written and presented a series for the Discovery Channel, and also for National Geographic TV and Fox Television where he was the creator and on-air host of the series Jake’s Attic.

He has performed live shows and workshops across the US and is currently developing a new television series with NASA Television.

He will present one of his shows in the Orkney Science Festival, as well as carrying out the opening on Thursday 4 September in Kirkwall.

Before a term as a university professor, Jake spent 15 years teaching middle and high school science. He has written 14 books and developed numerous science kits and science games, and is the director of science education at the Mr Wizard Studio in Hollywood.

He says that his aim in science shows is to encourage the next generation to acquire skills enabling them to ‘think as a scientist’, and to apply those skills in everyday living.

Jake is known in the US as Wizard IV, a title inherited from his predecessors: television’s Mr Wizard, Don Herbert (Wizard III), Hubert Alyea of Princeton University (Wizard II), and the inspirational leader of all science communication wizards, Michael Faraday.

Jake is currently participating in a worldwide hunt for Wizard V, a search he says that may well focus on his visit to Orkney’s Science Festival.  During his UK visit, he will be meeting scientists at the Royal Institution in London to continue building a strong relationship between US and UK science communicators.

His visit to Orkney is being sponsored by Ace Hardware, an American retailer-owned cooperative group with stores in over 60 countries. The company is a member of a group of organisations developing new initiatives in teaching science in informal settings. The group, which includes NASA, the National Science Teachers Association and Science Olympiad, is developing books, kits and teaching materials as well as science shows and live webcasts, for use internationally.

Asked what his thoughts were on being invited to open this year’s Orkney International Science Festival he replied, ‘It’s a great honour to be invited and for a Wizard like me the OISF is proof that heaven does exist on earth!  I’ve attended many science gatherings but this one will reach the top of my strata list. I am looking forward to the sheer joy of the event.’

The full Festival programme for this year will be appearing here in early June. Topics will range from the origin of life in space to clues from genetics to the people of the Viking Age.