Tag: Science Cheerleader

Update: The newly crowned Ms. United States [hearts] science.

By The Intersection | July 14, 2011 5:47 pm

This is a guest blog post from Darlene Cavalier,  founder of ScienceCheerleader.com and ScienceForCitizens.net

Last night,  Laura Eilers, AKA Ms. Virginia, was crowned MS. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA! The Science Cheerleaders–current and former NFL and NBA cheerleaders pursuing science and engineering careers–are very fortunate to have Laura as our extremely talented choreographer and creative director.

In addition to being a former cheerleader for the St. Louis Rams, cheerleader and choreographer for the Kansas City Chiefs, and an NFL Hall of Fame Game Cheerleader, she’s also the creator of  Going Pro Entertainment, LLC, a network of professional cheerleading and dance alumni.

In school, her favorite science projects included “creating an amoeba structure out of cookie cake and icing, researching anthropologist Dian Fossey and her work with gorillas, as well as engineering a balsa wood structure that could withstand heavy weights. My team and I tested the structure repeatedly and competed with other schools for the strongest balsa structure.”

And, yes, she “most definitely believes evolution should be taught to our children.”

Congratulations, Laura!

And now, I’d like to turn your attention to a recent blog post written by Joshua Rosenau at Thoughts from Kansas. Following up on all the chatter surrounding the Miss USA contestants’ answers to the question of whether evolution should be taught in schools, Josh writes:

I’m glad to see professional cheerleaders and pageant contestants stepping up and talking about science. It has to have been nerve-wracking for the Miss USA contestants to be asked about the question without time to prep, and I think the awkwardness and “ums” and “likes” and “you knows” in the transcript mostly just reflect how people actually talk, especially when we’re nervous. The substance of the Miss USA pageant answers wasn’t at all impressive, but the fact that the pageant thought Miss USA should be able to speak about science education is impressive.

Ms. Virginia, or “huge science geek” Miss California (now Miss USA), can go into rooms and connect with audiences that just don’t care to listen to anything said by me, or PZ Myers, or Richard Dawkins, or Eugenie Scott. So can a professional cheerleader. And if the goal is to make a more science literate society, it behooves us to make sure that women waving pom poms or wearing a sash with a state name on it are just as ready to talk about the joys of science as a doctor in a white coat or a geologist in dusty jeans.

And at the end of the day, I smile every time I see Cavalier play this video. Because why shouldn’t a little girl at a massive science festival want to be a doctor and a teacher and a cheerleader? How better to encourage all of her dreams than to chat with a former professional cheerleader who is now a doctor and cheers for science? Someone else might see that you can call yourself a science geek and a history geek and still be chosen Miss USA, and decide to take her schooling more seriously. And that’s for the best.

Read Josh’s full post here.

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

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


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