LINCOLN — Good ideas often start with a simple question and Nebraskans are responding with creativity and innovation.
With that in mind, NET created the television series “What If …” to follow visionaries who aren’t afraid to think outside the box. Two episodes of “What If …” premiere back-to-back at 8 and 8:30 p.m. Thursday, June 13, on NET.
In the 8 p.m. episode, NET producer and host Mike Tobias takes viewers to Ord, where the small town went from surviving to thriving by developing a customized program for leadership training and personal growth.
Then, “What If …” visits the world-class biomechanics program at the University of Nebraska at Omaha where Assistant Dean Nick Stergiou leads a team of researchers studying ways to help people move more easily — including stroke victims, amputees, the elderly and people who suffer from diseases such as multiple sclerosis or cerebral palsy.
In the series about creativity, the music is creative, too. A call-out to local composers resulted in more than 100 original pieces, including some from an 11-year-old Omahan who enjoys Legos, insects, “Star Wars” movies and composing classical music.
And, in the last segment of the first episode, Tobias profiles a couple who is breathing new life into rural Catholic churches without breaking the bank. They are using plastic pipe and foam to replicate expensive marble.
At 8:30 p.m., the second episode begins in Omaha with an examination of how cutting-edge 3-D, virtual reality and other simulation technology is changing health education in the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s iEXCEL Program.
Next, Tobias introduces Vishal Singh, the founder of the Lincoln start-up Quantified Ag, which created a high-tech way for cattle producers to monitor animal health. Another segment includes a visit to Growing Great Beginnings from the Community Action Partnership of Lancaster and Saunders counties. The unique program is helping people living in poverty learn to plan meals, cook and even grow their own food.
And, back in Omaha, the series looks at how the web hosting start-up company Flywheel is not only changing how and where people work, but challenging attitudes and ideas about what a workplace should be — by bringing dogs and beer to the office.
An online extension of the “What If …” television series is “Innovator Insights” which are short videos intended for the next generation of young innovators. They feature innovators from diverse backgrounds, including some who are featured in “What If …” stories.
The “Innovator Insights” video collection will become part of the NET PBS LearningMedia library (net.pbslearningmedia.org), serving as a resource for teachers, students, parents and others who are exploring options following high school or college.
For more information about the “What If…” television series and to watch “Innovator Insights,” visit netNebraska.org/WhatIf. Videos are also available on NET’s YouTube channel.