Janet Ivey is the creator of Janet’s Planet, and this week, she is the subject of our creator interview!
batteryPOP: What got you interested in science when you were young?
Janet: My love of science and stars and planets came from my fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Ernestine Yarborough. By all accounts she is one of the finest teachers that has ever graced this world. She absolutely made me a curious lover of science. In fact she would always say to us, “Girls, science is for everyone, not just for the boys.” She led me on an adventure of learning and I will forever be in her debt for instilling the majesty and wonder of the world in me. She would give us the beginnings of a story and make us use our vocabulary words, science lesson and history lesson to finish the story. She would assign us a part of a subject and we would have to get up in front of the class and ‘teach’ on that aspect of the particular subject. When we got to the Solar System, she had a star party for our class on a Friday night and I got assigned the planet Saturn. I am fairly certain the infant seeds of Janet’s Planet were sown in that very classroom. Mrs. Yarborough whispered into my ear (one day after an assignment) ‘Janet, you are going to do great and mighty things one day.” I attempt to live everyday of my life fulfilling that statement. Her love and inspiration is the reason for my life long love of science and my pursuit to understand how things work.
batteryPOP: How did you decide to start making science videos for kids?
Janet: My Bachelor’s degree is in Music and Theatre and right out of college I was chosen to perform at a local theme park in Nashville in a show called the Opryland Kid’s Club. I thought I was going to get a record deal, not perform for kids. But I quickly discovered that I absolutely loved performing with and for kids. When I began to think…now what can I do with this new found ‘mission’ that combines my love of theatre with my love of performing with and for kids…I looked around and thought about Mrs. Ernestine Yarborough and thought…what if I add science to this equation? At the time the only science shows that were on were Bill Nye the Science Guy and Beakman’s World. NO LADIES were hosting a show about science. Hmm…everyone had always called me “Interplanet Janet,” but Schoolhouse Rock already owned that. What about Janet’s Planet? No one owned that…and then I decided that it was meant to be mine. I applied for the trademark and Janet’s Planet was born. I’ve since covered topics about health, nutrition, safety, the science of safety, microgravity, and other topics.
batteryPOP: What’s the next topic you’d like to cover on Janet’s Planet?
Janet: I just got to interview Commander Chris Hadfield, (video coming soon to BatteryPop) which was super awesome, because he’s a science and an artist!
I think the next topic I’d really like to explore and cover on Janet’s Planet is to highlight great kids creating, inventing and doing great science. For me, highlighting the next generation and encouraging others in their age group to embrace their “GENIUS” is what truly excites me.
I’d also really like to interview Bill Nye the Science Guy. He is a big reason why I wanted Janet’s Planet to be a show about science.
batteryPOP: If you could go anywhere in the world (or out of this world), where would you go and why?
Janet: I’d love to go to the Moon. Don a spacesuit and hop about on the Moon with 1/6th the Earth’s gravity…film an episode of Janet’s Planet and beam it back to Earth from the Moon.
I’d love to be a ‘teacher’ chosen for a stint on the International Space Station, to live and work and help with the 200+ science experiments they have going on there, see 16 sunrises and sunsets in the course of a day, and peer out into the vastness of space…yep, sign me up.
And lastly, I wouldn’t mind going to Mars as a “Granny.” In my mid 80’s, I want to be a Mars Mission Mascot and be helpful in figuring out what happens in the elderly in lessened gravity. I mean think about it, which is cooler…”My grandma, passed away peacefully in her sleep,” OR, “My grandma died in the service of exploration on MARS.” Yep, I’ll take the latter.
batteryPOP: If you could interview any scientist (either a specific scientist, or a type of scientist) for your show, who would you pick and why?
Janet: Bill Nye The Science Guy because of his commitment to science and science literacy. And I want to ask him about the correlation between science and a bow tie!
And I’d love to interview Neil Degrasse Tyson. I’d love to simply be in the presence of his genius but to also ask him who was the catalyst for his love of astronomy?
batteryPOP: If you were a superhero, who (or what) would your sidekick be?
Janet: If I were a SUPER HERO (picture a SCIENCE Wonder Woman, who’s golden lasso would be able to capture all manner of things and pull them close so we could investigate them), my sidekick would be R2D2.
(And if I could have my own little army of sidekicks, (aka minions in Despicable Me) it would be every young scientist in the world. We’d do SCIENCE for the good and improve life on this planet.)
batteryPOP: Do you have any advice for kids who want to be scientists when they grow up?
Janet: Live by Albert Einstein’s quote, “Never lose a holy curiosity.” Einstein said, “The whole of science is nothing more than a refinement of everyday thinking." Whatever you can think, imagine, create or dream of today…just might be great science tomorrow.
Most importantly explore, find what interests you and start investigating ways in which to create, invent and innovate.
And most of all NEVER GIVE UP…I don’t know of one scientist who got it right the first time. Einstein also said…”Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new." So don’t be afraid of failing...the adventure of science is out there…just START.
Thank you to Janet for answering all our questions! You can check out the Janet’s Planet series of gravity and healthy living here on batteryPOP!