Reflections on Bill Nye’s Visit to American University

Reflections on Bill Nye’s Visit to American University
Related Topics:
Colleges & Education

By Kara Schiaparelli
​Planet Forward Intern/American University

Bill Nye the Science Guy visited American University on Tuesday night, offering inspiration and motivating students to act.

The Kennedy Political Union (KPU) planned the event and it was one of their biggest events ever. Tickets sold out in minutes, students started lining up hours before doors opened and Bender Arena was packed with excited students.

The second Nye stepped onto the stage after KPU president Valeria Ojeda-Avita’s introduction, the audience went wild. Students chanted “BILL, BILL, BILL, BILL” as he waved to the crowd. For the next hour and a half Nye discussed his family’s history, his own work in science and how we, as college students, can “change the world.”

Nye started off talking about his parents, both of whom were scientists, and how they inspired him.

Nye’s father, Ned, fascinated by sundials, created the “sand-dial,” a device that you can take to the beach so you don’t get sand in your watch. 

“My dad proposed the national monument be turned into a sundial. … In the summer we’d have to move the White House,” Nye said. 

His mother, Jacqueline Jenkins-Nye, worked on the Enigma code, the story of which was dramatized in the 2014 film “The Imitation Game.” She couldn’t talk about what she did in the war for 50 years — until all the files were declassified.

Nye also discussed climate change and how carbon emissions effect the growing population on Earth. In his lifetime, the world’s population has more than doubled, from 3 billion to 7.3 billion. He is currently working with The Solutions Project to figure out a way to create clean energy in each state.

“You could, when faced with the problem of climate change, run in circles screaming, but that has proven ineffective,” Nye said. Instead, he wants us to be “the next great generation,” and he would like everyone to be “scientifically literate, not a scientist.”

Having grown up watching “Bill Nye the Science Guy,” it was amazing to see him a few meters away from where I was sitting. He has done so much more than make a television show inspiring children to take an interest in science, and now he is trying to inspire those same kids — now all grown up — to make the world a better place. If you follow the #KPUNye thread on Twitter, you will see how inspired AU students were from his talk and how much Bill Nye has affected their lives. 

The answer to the last audience question sums up Bill Nye’s talk at AU: “What am I most passionate about? None of your business … Science!”


(Photo by Ed Schipul

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