On Saturday, the Student Activity Committee (STATIC) hosted An Evening with Bill Nye, featuring one of the most passionate, famous scientists that graced many childhoods and taught us so much.
Nye joined IUP STATIC members Zach Clark, STATIC’s adviser, and Erin Wilhelm, STATIC’s vice entertainment chair, via Zoom for the night’s discussion. The event consisted mainly of moderated questions led by the two STATIC members.
Bill Nye began the night with a short opening remark. He addressed the COVID-19 pandemic first and explained how extraordinary a time we are living through.
Nye explained that the last pandemic was in 1918, the Spanish flu, and that it was estimated that 50 million people died. There were no vaccines in that time, but he proudly admitted that he has already received his two COVID-19 vaccinations and bragged about being able to go outside without wearing a mask.
Not only did he address the pandemic in his opening remarks, but he jumped right into the discussion by addressing the world’s current struggle with climate change.
“The pandemic is big fun, but we’ve also got climate change,” Nye said.
“There’s a lot going on, people. You got your work cut out for you, and I am optimistic about the future because you’re young and you’re not gonna put up with this contrarian science denial. It’s gonna be exciting.”
During the event, he spoke a bit about himself. Nye explained that one of the reasons why his “Science Guy” show was so successful was the creative team with a shared sense of humor and the “intimate nature of television.”
“You can’t fool the lens,” Nye said.
“When a guy or gal is on television, and they’re looking at the lens, and they’re talking to you, you can’t fool the viewer. He or she knows if you’re lying to them. As far as who Bill Nye is, what you see is what you get.
“I love science; I love engineering and using science to make things and solve problems.”
Nye also joked about how he actually wears bowties in real life, too.
He shared his excitement about working as the CEO of the Planetary Society, the world’s largest independent space interest organization. He also mentioned everyone’s excitement about the Perseverance Rover on Mars and the developments to that project.
Nye also spoke about how he developed his famous combination of comedy and science to help people learn. He explained that the intersection mainly came from his family values. Many of his family members were involved in science, including his grandfather and his parents, and he joked about how playful his family members are to this day.
One of Nye’s greatest inspirations was Don Herbert, who hosted the television show called “Watch Mister Wizard.” Herbert’s show featured interesting and unique science experiments and demonstrations, which the young Bill Nye had found to be riveting in his childhood. Nye explained that he was fascinated by Herbert and that he “studied his moves” and adapted them to be his own.
There was a short portion of the night in which some IUP students were invited to ask Nye their questions personally. The audience questions ranged from what he believed his greatest accomplishment to be, to what inspired him to be more vocal about his knowledge of global warming.
“My advice to all college students, to everybody, is to just get started,” Nye said.
“It doesn’t matter what you do; just get going on something, and you will find your way. You will find a path forward.”
Finally, he finished his discussion with some tips on how to make a difference for the sake of fighting climate change.
“The first thing you can do is talk about it,” Nye said.
“If we were talking about climate change the way we talk about other important things, we’d be doing something about it. Everybody, please vote. You have to vote. We also need big ideas, everybody.”
Nye emphasized how important it was to get involved in the effort to save the planet and contribute ideas to help create change.
“We need new ways to make electricity and new ways to move it around. Wind and solar can power almost everything, everywhere, if we just get started. We just gotta get started. Let’s do it.”
The conversation throughout the event was entertaining and engaging, and Nye went into such detail in answering each question that the event ran about 15 minutes past its scheduled end, but no one complained.