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Bill Nye urges students to ‘change the world’

Abby Sweet/ Lantern photographer

What do you get when you cross a stand-up comedian and professional scientist? One logical answer would be Bill Nye the Science Guy.

At an event sponsored by the Ohio Union Activities Board, Nye shared some of his experience in the science field with a touch of humor to a group of about 1,500 students at 7 p.m. Monday in the Archie M. Griffin Grand Ballroom.

The event opened up with the theme song, “Bill, Bill, Bill, Bill, Bill, Bill, Bill Nye the Science Guy, Science rules,” which started off each of his kid-oriented science shows from the 1990s.

Throughout Nye’s speech, he emphasized the importance of students making a change.

“I hope (students) will get inspired to change the world,” Nye said in an interview with The Lantern. “I hope somebody out there gets inspired to really make a discovery that changes the world.”

Whether he was talking about how the dinosaurs went extinct, what the atmosphere was like on Mars or showing his vast knowledge of sundials, Nye almost always tied it back to students being able to change the world and improve the future of science.

“We are living at this extraordinary time where we can, dare I say it, change the world,” Nye said. “I want you to all be part of a more closely knit human community, and I want you to be part of the future.”

Nye said that since the show, “Bill Nye the Science Guy,” first aired in 1992, the objective was always to encourage viewers to make a change in some way.

The show lasted about six years, had a total of 100 episodes and won 18 Emmy Awards.

“The 100 shows is still so far my greatest achievement, but I hope the best achievement is still ahead,” Nye told The Lantern. “And I hope it’s when one of you guys creates a new battery that enables people to store energy in a new way or that you cure cancer … (you) would say, ‘It’s because I watched your show, Bill.'”

Today, Nye works as CEO of The Planetary Society, an organization that studies space, and said he hopes to eventually have another show.

This event was a collaboration of various organizations, such as Engineers Without Borders, Engineers for Community Service and The Chemistry Club.

The Chemistry Club, which helps expose members of the club to opportunities within their field, was the first organization to request to be involved in this event.

Kristen Belesky, co-president of the Chemistry Club and second-year in chemistry, said this event is important for undergraduate students because they aren’t always sure how to find a career in the science field.

“One of the major things our club focuses on is how people got where they are today,” Belesky said. “As undergrads, we’re not really sure, so it will really be interesting to see how he took his degrees and ended up on TV as this iconic figure.”

One student was so eager to take a walk down memory lane that she was the first person to get in line for the event at 2:30 p.m.

Rebecca Price, a second-year in biology, said she had to be one of the first people there as soon as she heard he was coming.

“Bill Nye was my childhood hero. I used to watch his show all the time, and he was the coolest person ever,” Price said. “This is one of those once-in-a-lifetime events, and since I love Bill Nye so much, I thought it’d be really cool to be in the front.”

Price wasn’t the only one who remembers growing up with Nye. Drew Doherty, a third-year in theatre, said he recalls idolizing Nye.

“I’ve always watched Bill Nye in sixth grade, seventh grade, middle school science class. It made science more entertaining, and if you didn’t have that great professor who could inspire you, Bill Nye could, and that’s some of my best memories from school,” Doherty said.

Jonathan Filippi, another member of the Chemistry Club and third-year in chemistry, said he proposed the idea to OUAB last year.

“I wanted to figure out a way to instill more interest in the club on campus. I thought that bringing a famous scientist to campus, who many students remember from their childhood, would be the perfect way,” Filippi said in an email to The Lantern. “This year when they told us they wanted to bring him to campus, we jumped at the opportunity to help out on such a cool event.”

Belesky said at the meetings they hold every other week, professors from the different fields of research come in to talk with students, so this event is another opportunity for students to see how someone built their life around science.

“I feel like for our generation, Bill Nye was all of our first exposures to science, so it’s really just important to have someone who’s taken science and made really big life work out of it,” Belesky said. 

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