Tag: Darlene Cavalier

Taking Science to Where the Peeps Are: NFL Football!

By Sheril Kirshenbaum | September 15, 2010 1:12 pm

This is a guest post by Darlene Cavalier, a writer and senior adviser at Discover Magazine. Darlene holds a Masters degree from the University of Pennsylvania, and is a former Philadelphia 76ers cheerleader. She founded ScienceCheerleader.com and cofounded ScienceForCitizens.net to make it possible for lay people to contribute to science.

Lots of chatter recently here and here among science bloggers debating and distilling the merits of various forms of science communication. Novel, broad approaches to reach new audiences were discussed. I hinted at one such approach in the thread and now I’d like to share the details.

I’ve been working with the National Science Foundation, NBC and the National Football League on The Science of NFL Football, a video series featuring current and former NFL stars and scientists to demonstrate and explain the multiple scientific concepts, core to the game of football.

The football action is broken down using a Phantom camera, which captures the players’ movement at rates of up to 2,000 frames per second. Players provide insights and scientists give blow-by-blow accounts of the specific scientific principles such as Newton’s Three Laws of Motion, kinematics and projectile motion. The Phantom video shoot was overseen by the NBC Olympics Production Group, which also provided research and technical support throughout the project.

Steve Capus, President of NBC News said, “NBC is extremely excited to offer this creative video series that combines science education and a sport that so many kids know and love.”

That’s right. We’re going to where the adults and kids are. Or, as NYTimes reporter Joanne Gerstner put it in this piece, “It’s almost like telling kids their favorite food was entirely made of really healthy vegetables.” In this same Times piece, Soraya Gage, executive producer of NBC Learn adds “… Getting the athletes to talk about what they do hooks the kids and the students. And when it’s coming from an idol, a sporting hero, they sit up and listen.”

A little back story. Originally pitched this as a series featuring the many procheerleaders who are scientists and engineers. Why? These women are remarkable. They are the real deal and they are passionate about inspiring young women to consider careers in science, technology, engineering, and math. And, obviously, they are provocative (i.e. attention grabbers). As scientists/engineers AND procheerleaders, they epitomize opposing stereotypes. Turns out, they’re also proving to be influential role models and mentors to middle school girls, in particular. Before you snicker or roll your eyes, keep in mind that 1.4 million gals are cheerleaders and they look up to these women. You can bet plenty of these young science-minded cheerleaders are feeling torn between identities. Follow an interest in science? Or be jocks or cheerleaders? Science Cheerleaders say, “both.”

I chose to emphasize these so-called Science Cheerleaders because they speak from personal experience and they all have a good story to tell…and I can empathize with them. For years, while working at Discover Magazine, I kept secret my identity as a 76ers cheerleader for fear of being dissed. Fortunately, my fears were unfounded. In fact, it’s partly due to my past cheerleading relationships that this NFL, NBC, NSF partnership came to be! As the NFL video segments are released on ScienceCheerleader.com (about once a week), a procheerleader-turned-scientist or engineer will introduce the segment and we’ll link to an online interview we did with her. I think you’ll enjoy them and it’s one way of broadening distribution among young women. If Science Cheerleaders aren’t your thing, have no fear. The segments will be aired without the cheerleader-tie ins on NBC, NBCLearn.com, and NSF360.gov

Without further ado, here’s the official announcement of the Science of NFL Football series. Hope you and your fellow football fans enjoy learning about the science and engineering of NFL football. (Oh, and that Science Cheerleader series pitch? Just wait.)

Al Roker, Lester Holt, and Deuce McAllister kick off the Science of NFL Football on this Today Show clip. The 10-part video series starring past and present NFL stars was produced in partnership with the NFL, NBC, and the National Science Foundation. As the segments are released each week, I’ll pop back here to The Intersection and provide a brief description and link to the new segment.
Visit NSF360.gov and NBC Learn for more information and to download supplemental lesson plans available free to educators.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Announcements, Guest Posts

Who gets the credit for the BP container cap? YOU do.

By Chris Mooney | July 20, 2010 8:37 am

This is a guest post by Darlene Cavalier, a writer and senior adviser at Discover Magazine. Darlene holds a Masters degree from the University of Pennsylvania, and is a former Philadelphia 76ers cheerleader. She founded ScienceCheerleader.com and cofounded ScienceForCitizens.net to make it possible for lay people to contribute to science.

The world may never know for certain who sparked the idea for the current BP oil containment cap.  Professor Robert Bea, from the University of California, Berkeley, however, has a strong hunch:

Six weeks ago, Robert Bea, an engineering professor at the University of California, Berkeley, received a late-night call from an apologetic “mystery plumber.” The caller said he had a sketch for how to solve the problem at the bottom of the Gulf. It was a design for a containment cap that would fit snugly over the top of the failed blowout preventer at the heart of the Gulf oil spill. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Guest Posts

Can Offering Prizes for Innovative Solutions Save the Gulf?

By Chris Mooney | May 13, 2010 8:08 am

This is a guest post by Darlene Cavalier, a writer and senior adviser at Discover Magazine. Darlene holds a Masters degree from the University of Pennsylvania, and is a former Philadelphia 76ers cheerleader. She founded ScienceCheerleader.com and cofounded ScienceForCitizens.net to make it possible for lay people to contribute to science.

Prizes: This old idea is making a sweeping comeback and it is changing the way government, industry and foundations help revolutionize future discovery. It’s high time we offer prizes to motivate and galvanize the public to come up with creative, real-time solutions to major disasters, such as the BP oil spill.

Approximately one-and-a-half weeks ago, I received an email from Andrew Revkin (who writes the DotEarth blog at The New York Times) in which he challenged researchers and others to think creatively about substantive approaches to stanching the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

“There’s a lot of talk about sweeping Grand Engineering Challenges this year. But one is unfolding in real-time in the Gulf. Waiting months for a relief well seems pretty in the box,” he wrote in the email (reprinted with Revkin’s permission), and reiterated in this blog post.

While it’s true that BP is accepting public suggestions about ideas to mitigate the oil spill, the process needs some tweaking. From the Deepwater Horizon Response website: “Once a formal suggestion has been filed, BP technical personnel will carefully evaluate each and every one for technical feasibility and proof of application. If the engineering group finds the suggestion feasible, the person submitting the suggestion will be contacted if and when their support is needed.”

BP technical personnel will evaluate the suggestions? Seems a little too cozy to me. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Environment

A Little Respect: Involving Citizens in Technology Assessment

By Chris Mooney | April 29, 2010 11:24 am

This is a guest post by Darlene Cavalier, a writer and senior adviser at Discover Magazine. Darlene holds a Masters degree from the University of Pennsylvania, and is a former Philadelphia 76ers cheerleader. She founded ScienceCheerleader.com and cofounded ScienceForCitizens.net to make it possible for lay people to contribute to science.

Happy Thursday.

Very pleased to be filling in for Sheril this month. These are big shoes to fill, to say the least.  During my time with you, I hope my writings provide a bit of inspiration, provocation, or, failing that, some entertainment to brighten your day. All I ask in return is that you keep doing what you do so well here: share your ideas and comments.

Some of you (two, three?) may know me as the Science Cheerleader, a persona who advocates–and creates  mechanisms–for public participation in science and science policy.  These are broad terms with multiple definitions, depending on the author’s intention. Let’s dive right into one of this author’s intentions: to create a way for citizens and experts to participate in assessments of emerging technologies.

Citizens, your time has come! On this day in history, Aretha Franklin released her hit song, Respect. And on THIS day, respect for your insights, values, concerns, and expertise, are the tenets of the breaking news I’m about to share…. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Uncategorized
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