For some kids, science can sometimes seem excruciating, but many children who grew up in the 1990s know of one man who always made it fun – Bill Nye, “The Science Guy.”
Wearing his signature bowtie, Nye spoke last week at Kent State University’s Stark Campus to more than 600 students and community members. The author and comedian is most famous for his hit television show, “Bill Nye the Science Guy,” which aired from 1993-1998. Although his presentation contained many jokes, it also came with a serious message – reversing climate change.
“We are living through the very beginning of what most scientists predicted would happen as the world gets going,” he said. “Here’s what I want you guys to do – I want you to change it back.”
During the presentation, Nye spoke about his childhood and his unusual love of sundials, which he attributes to his father. He also described his involvement in the NASA project that sent two sundials to Mars.
While he explained science concepts to the audience, he used comedy to keep everyone enthralled. When Nye compared the surface of Venus to the game Lava, where children pretend they can’t touch the floor because it’s made of Lava, he climbed onto his podium to mimic the game.
“If you go to Venus, I encourage you to be very careful,” Nye joked.
Nye hosted a video conference to area schools before his presentation. Five schools participated by asking questions, while 21 other schools were view-only sites. Cynthia Williams, public relations coordinator for Kent State Stark, said it was the largest response they have seen for video conferences with Stark’s Featured Speaker Series.
“He’s creating younger generations of scientists every time he talks,” Williams said.
Although Nye’s show has been off the air for more than a decade, Brian Baldwin, an 8th grade science teacher at West Branch Middle School, said he still shows episodes of the program to his students. Baldwin said Nye has been an inspiration to him.
“He presents [science] in a fun but practical way,” Baldwin said. “He’s able to explain it to them in a way they can understand.”
When discussing climate change, Nye listed several ways individuals could help to reverse the trend. He showed photos of his own home, where he uses solar panels to provide heat and sun domes to provide natural light.
Jackson High School Senior Cheyenne Fenstemaker said she found his speech motivational.
“It was inspirational hearing about the way Bill lives his everyday life,” Fenstemaker said. “It shows you that all of us can do it.”
Near the end of his presentation, Nye emphasized the importance of education, and he said he hopes everyone experiences the joy of discovery that can be found in science.
“You could have the joy of knowing like no other generation before you,” said Nye.
“It’s possible that someone in this room will have an idea that will – dare I say it – change the world.”