5 Tireless, Awkward Mascots Making Science More Fun

Fighting the good fight

Mascots are a strange thing. When it comes to sports or general rallying around a topic, humans seem to need another human sweating underneath a furry costume to bring them together. Sometimes that costume is an animal (my middle school mascot was a trailblazer, a.k.a. a horse with a flaming mane and tail). Or sometimes they’re something else entirely (my fellow Clearwater High School alumni know the struggle of having an anthropomorphized tornado as a mascot). Because we’re fans of all things science at Popular Science, we’ve searched high and low for the strangest, nerdy science mascots out there. Here are a few of our favorites.

Sammy Soil

Sammy Soil, as you might guess, is the National Resources Conservation Service’s mascot for soil conservation. This happy little dirt clod with grass for hair first appeared in 1967, and was created by a retired NRCS conservationist named Ernest Whitaker. The subject of many children’s coloring books, Sammy spreads the word about the importance of soil with a gigantic smile.

NSA Dunk

The National Security Agency really out-did itself with Dunk. Created for Earth Day this year, its goal was to get kids excited about recycling, and tout the NSA’s efforts, but overall, the anthropomorphized recycling bin that asked you to analyze your school’s trash turned out to be a little creepy.

ESA’s Paxi

Paxi is a little green alien that lives in a far-away planet called Ally-O, and loves to fly around in a little space ship and explore stars, moons, and planets, and even comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. European Space Agency introduced Paxi to teach kids more about space.

ACS’s Professor Molenium

The American Chemical Society turned to the favorite pun of many a high school chemistry teacher for their mascot. Professor Molenium is a Mole, festooned with googles and a lab coat. Professor Molenium can often be seen posing with fans , and expertly reenacting a scene from The Lion King.

U.S. Forest Service’s Woodsy Owl

Smokey the Bear might get all the credit for being the Forest Service’s mascot. But Woodsy Owl has been urging people to “Give a hoot; don’t pollute” and more recently, “Give a hand, help the land,” for 44 years now.