D.C.'s March for Science

D.C.'s March for Science

For Earth Day this year, I marched alongside one of my childhood heroes to stand up for science. That hero is Bill Nye the Science Guy.

 

A blurry yet awesome picture of Bill onstage

 

Saturday was a cold and rainy D.C. day, but I sprung out of bed that morning ready to participate in my biggest march yet. The March for Science wasn't just one march in a single city, but a series of marches across the entire globe to stand up for continued funding and respect for scientists and the research that they do. Though I don't have exact numbers, tens of thousands of people reportedly showed up for the march in D.C., with thousands of others marching in other cities around the world.

 

I walked from TWC's Residential and Academic Facility in NoMa to the Washington Monument about a mile or so away. I saw sporadic rain on the forecast, but didn't expect the persistent drizzle/downpour to continue for the entire day. So, I naively wore a cotton zip-up hoodie with my university's name emblazoned across the front over a "Nevertheless, she persisted" t-shirt and denim jeans. I laced up my Chucks, and set out for the march decked out in the most inappropriate gear conceivable given the actual forecast for the day.

 

When I finally arrived at the Monument, it was about 11 am. The day's events began around 9 am, and featured teach-ins and guest speakers over the course of the day. Every type of person milled about the Monument before the march, forming a tightly-packed sea of activists each toting umbrellas and large signs. I couldn't believe how many people had shown up, especially considering that the real march didn't begin until 2 pm. In the distance, I could see a large stage near the Monument, and I began to push my way through the dense crowd of rain-soaked protesters until I made it to the very front of the stage.

 

The stage after most people left to march


Many short people complain about their height during concerts and events because the taller people block their view. I can attest to this as a short person - 5'2 on a good day - but I've developed a strategy to capitalize on my height disadvantage. By squeezing through spaces that others probably can't squeeze through while mumbling something about being shorter than everyone else, I've managed to weasel my way to the front of many stages using this game plan. Last summer, I dragged my boyfriend to the front of a Flume concert, which in hindsight was probably the worst decision for our eardrums, but a really good time nonetheless. This time, I also used my height to mooch protection from several umbrellas, since I naively left mine at home.

 

A screenshot of the crowd, featuring me in the red circle behind the pink


The second I reached the front of the crowd, Bill Nye the Science Guy walked onstage for his speech. What I've seen tweens do when they see Justin Bieber IRL was what I did when Bill Nye walked onstage - I fangirled like, a lot. Bill talked climate change, policy and science, and emphasized the value of studying science. Not only is Bill Nye the guy you'd watch in literally every science class you had until high school, but he's now the host of a new show called Bill Nye Saves the World, which aired on Netflix two days before the march.

 

I'm a political science major, so the consistent mention of policy in each speech resonated with me. Looking back to see the White House in the distance, I couldn't help but feel like we were being watched by at least somebody.

 

Hmmm...

 

Bill Nye wasn't the only influential person to speak at the March for Science - Questlove, Cara Santa Maria, Derek Muller, Maya Lin, Dr. Nancy Roman, Leland Melvin, Judith Hill, and Mari Copeny were among some of the amazing faces who spoke or performed before the march.

 

Judith Hill killin' it in the pouring rain

 

At promptly 2 pm, the march to Capitol Hill began. The persistent rain had turned into a mist temporarily, and I took small steps within the massive crowd towards our destination, plodding through mud and trampled grass in my soaked Chucks. At this point I was thoroughly drenched and couldn't really feel my fingers, but I was ready to start moving. The crowd waved their signs and chanted lines like, "Ho ho, hey hey, I support the EPA" and "What do we want? Science! When do we want it? After peer review!"


One of my favorite costumes from the march

 

I walked briskly beside the main crowds filling up Constitution Ave. along the sidewalks, hoping to catch a glimpse of the Science Guy amidst the other marchers. Sadly, I didn't get to see Bill again before I went home that afternoon, but I did see a pretty cool sign that kind of made up for it.

 

 

On the steps of the Capitol, several protesters stood in defiance with the signs they apparently snuck past Capitol Security. Lines of guards stopped marchers before they got too close, informing them that signs couldn't go beyond that point. For this reason, many marchers took their pictures and headed home. Well, that, and the rain picked up again. Hearing nothing but horror stories about the swarmed Metro, I opted to walk back to the RAF once again in the rain.

 


This woman looks like she's up to no good, which is why this is my favorite picture from the march

 

The March for Science was a fantastically memorable experience. While I might not be the average lab coat-wearing scientist, I am an avid supporter of the work that scientists do, and I also believe that science should inform and guide policy at all levels of government. I believe leaders across the world have taken notice of these marches, and I truly hope that we as a global society will continue to invest in (and value) scientific research.


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