For many UMass Lowell graduates, their childhood will come full circle at this year’s Commencement ceremonies on Saturday, May 17 when “Bill Nye the Science Guy” gives their Commencement speech.
Nye is excited to speak to an audience that grew up watching his show. For many, the “Science Guy” series was a staple of their childhood. “I am thrilled that I was an important part of their lives growing up, and I am honored to be addressing them at this Commencement,” he said.
The students are equally excited to hear from Nye. “I first saw that he was speaking I was thrilled,” said Rachel Paquette, a senior biology major. “He was the first to show me the excitingly fun and experimental side to biology. As a kid watching his show, who wouldn’t want to do that for a living. It is surreal, as a biologist, to know I will be able to hear and learn from my childhood icon,” she said.
Harold Koh, assistant secretary for health of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is also speaking at UMass Lowell’s Commencement ceremonies. The ceremony will be broken into two morning and afternoon ceremonies to accommodate for nearly 3,280 graduates, a record number for the seventh year in a row, according to a press release from UMass Lowell’s Office of University Relations. Nye, famous for the television series “Bill Nye the Science Guy,” will address the graduates at the first ceremony and Koh will speak at the second ceremony.
As an advocate for science and research, Nye applauded UMass Lowell for having a strong undergraduate research program. “The thing about young people, or people first starting out… is you’re fearless. And that is the great value of young people in research. You don’t know that you can’t do it, or that you’re not supposed to be able to do it,” he said.
Many of the graduates Nye is addressing were influenced by his show and his love for science. The material covered in “Bill Nye the Science Guy” is still applicable today, said Nye. “We focused the show on something called ‘pure science’ and it has stood the test of time, as a result. I mean, people still watch it in elementary school 20 years later, it’s very gratifying.”
The show was geared towards young children, mainly, and taught them science with a humorous twist. “We have very compelling evidence that 10 years old is the oldest you can be to get what people call the ‘lifelong passion for science,’” said Nye.
Nye believed it was important to use humor in his show. “Science is part of the human experience. Comedy is part of the human experience. So why not have them both at the same time? By having them both at the same time, you have entertainment. What’s not to love?” he said.
Nye want to use his influence as a childhood icon to impart an important message with students. “I want people to feel optimistic. I want people to feel that although the world is so full of trouble, as they say in country music songs, they can change things… they can change the world,” he said. “They are going to make the world what it will become. I just want them to feel optimistic and empowered and excited about the future.”