Science Cheerleader Theresa is excited to teach young visitors about citizen science at the Cambridge Science Festival!
On April 14th, Science Cheerleaders Beverly, Kelly, and Theresa attended the Cambridge Science Festival celebrating science with thousands of visitors as part of the science carnival. Teamed up with SciStarter, they engaged with kids and their families about citizen science projects such as the ZomBee Watch, a national effort to track the spread of the honeybee parasite, Apocephalus borealis, otherwise known as the Zombie Fly. Another project, Meet Your Mites, involved swabbing faces to use DNA sequencing to identify the tiny Demodex mites that inhabit your skin. Promoting citizen science is a great way to share an enthusiasm for science and demonstrate how universal science discovery can be. Whether it’s in your backyard or under your nose, science is all around us waiting to be explored!
Science Cheerleaders and SciStarter team members join forces to teach Cambridge Science Festival attendees about mites, zombie bees, and other hands-on citizen science projects.
The Cambridge Science Festival brought families, students, educators, and enthusiasts together in a community-centered celebration of science. From fun science activities to demonstrations, the Science Cheerleaders had a great time cheering for science and encouraging everyone to don their own lab coat and get excited about STEM.
Stay tuned for more Science Cheerleader events in the Boston area!
On April 28th, 2018 Science Cheerleaders Sherry “ShamRock” Leetham and Kaitlin Vortherms joined the Girl Scouts of Central Texas for a day of science packed events. Here’s what Kaitlin had to say about the event.
In the morning, we participated in the “Science Of Cheerleading” event hosted at Courage Cheer and Dance United, where young cheerleaders had the opportunity to discover the scientific principles that allow them to form solid pyramids, tumble, and perform gravity defying stunts. Sherry and I led the young women in science cheers and encouraged them as they created and performed science cheers of their own. We also used the opportunity and their love of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) to challenge the young women to think about how science plays a role in cheerleading, and their daily lives.
For the afternoon event, I traveled to the Girl Scouts of Central Texas headquarters to participate in their Think Like a Citizen Scientist Journey. Nationally, the Girl Scouts have added several new STEM badges and journeys to better reflect girls’ interests and to focus on 21st century skills. One of these included the “Think Like a Citizen Scientist” journey in collaboration with SciStarter, which allows girls to contribute to research being conducted by professional scientists. The Girl Scouts have the option to choose from a variety of citizen science projects and for the journey that took place during the afternoon event, the project of choice was the Ant Picnic. The Girl Scouts of Central Texas team and I led Girl Scouts of all ages from Daisies to Juniors in the journey of collecting data about the diet preferences of ants. This project proved to be a lot of fun as it introduced the girls to observation, prediction, and some new bug friends.
How do cheerleaders do all those amazing flips and stunts? What if we told you it was all in the science? Join Girl Scouts of Central Texas and two Science Cheerleaders to discover the scientific principles that allow cheerleaders to form solid pyramids, tumble, and launch high basket tosses and land them safely. You’ll get to learn about the science principles, AND try some different techniques to see what it takes to learn to do it yourself. We’ll wrap up with a demonstration from some actual competitive cheerleaders from the Courage Cheer All Star teams, and an appearance from the Science Cheerleaders who will bring to life their ebook, The Science of Cheerleading!
Sherry “ShamRock” Leetham is Alumni Cheerleader from The University of Tennessee Chattanooga, a University Cheerleading Clinic Instructor and Award Winner Cheer Coach. Her degree is in Pre-Law and she is an LCSW (Licensed Certified Social Worker.) She spent several years as a counsel prior to her 20 years as a fitness executive and nationally certified fitness professional. She considers herself a Motivational Disrupter because she has an unorthodox STEM company that specialize in the science of kinetic movements to improve women’s healthcare.
Kaitlin is a graduate of Arizona State University where she received her bachelors and masters degrees in Civil and Environmental Engineering. She is now a usability and user experience engineer where she works with various stakeholders to understand people’s pain points in an effort to design and improve newborn care products. Kaitlin is also a STEM and women’s advocate. She held the Miss America local title of Miss Phoenix 2015 where she used her platform to advocate for STEM education.
BONUS! From 1-5pm, the Girl Scouts of Central Texas will engage scouts in a citizen science project on SciStarter as part of the Think Like a Citizen Scientists Journey!
Members of the “Science Cheerleaders” team perform at USA Science & Engineering Festival and help families contribute to citizen science research.
Washington, DC – (April 5, 2018) – 2, 4, 6, 8, equals…20! Learn science and math when the Science Cheerleaders perform at the USA Science & Engineering Festival this weekend. Science Cheerleaders aren’t just cheering for and about STEM, they’re real-life scientists and engineers.
The Science Cheerleaders are also current and former NFL, NBA, and college cheerleaders pursuing careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). They playfully challenge stereotypes, inspire young women to consider careers in STEM, and engage people from all walks of life in real scientific research through SciStarter.
A dozen Science Cheerleaders from across the country will perform science-themed routines at the USA Science and Engineering Festival at the Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC. They will talk to kids about their dual careers as scientists and professional cheerleaders, sign autographs on their personalized trading cards, demonstrate cheers and stunts from their Science of Cheerleading ebook, and lead citizen science activities selected from SciStarter. See them on Saturday, April 7, 10:30 – 10:50 a.m. and Sunday, April 8, 12:10 – 12:30 p.m. on Stage C.
Two important STEM career paths will be highlighted as students try out new Science Cheerleader STEM activities created by the Science Cheerleaders:
Coding and Computer Engineering: Learn a little about how computers work using binary code. Apply your knowledge by decoding a puzzle. Then, use binary code to make a necklace that spells your name. Check out the profiles of Science Cheerleaders who are computer engineers!
Health & Medicine: How does the heart work? How do you monitor heart rates, and what’s the significance of low or high heart rates? Use a stethoscope to learn more while performing cheers and seeing the effects of activity on pulse. Find profiles of Science Cheerleaders who are surgeons.
These guided activities and conversations with the Science Cheerleaders are available on Saturday, April 7, 1 – 2 p.m. and Sunday, April 8, 1:30 – 2:30 p.m., both in Room 157.
Science Cheerleaders at USASEF (Follow the links for Q&A with each person):
Candess: Washington Redskins; B.S. Computer Science
Heather: Washington Redskins Ambassador; Ph.D. Neuroscience
Theresa: New England Patriots; Ph.D. student, Chemical Biology
Angela: Drexel U. Dragons Alumna; M.S. Student, Biomedical Engineering
Beverly: Drexel U. Dragons Alumna; Biomedical Engineer
Colleen: Bay Area Shuckers Alumna; B.S. and M.S. Fire Protection Engineering
Felicia: Miami Dolphins Alumna; M.S. and Ph.D., Clinical Psychology
Hilary: Colgate University Alumna; Ph.D. Molecular Pharmacology and Physiology
Janel: St. Louis University Alumna; M.S. Meteorology, B.S. Geography
Lauren: Washington Wizards & Washington Redskins Alumna; B.A. Math & Economics
Families are encouraged to see the performance, participate in the activities, and meet the Science Cheerleaders in person. They are certain to inspire young ladies to think about working hard to achieve their own goals – and having fun along the way.
Meet the Science Cheerleaders on April 7th and 8th in Washington, D.C. at the USA Science & Engineering Festival!
The Science Cheerleaders are current and former NFL, NBA, and College cheerleaders pursuing careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. They playfully challenge stereotypes, inspire young women to consider careers in STEM, and engage people from all walks of life in real scientific research through SciStarter.
This year’s featured Science Cheerleaders include cheerleaders from the Washington Redskins, Washington Wizards, and the George Washington University cheer teams as well as all of the cheerleaders listed below!
Talk to them about their dual careers, get their autographs on their personalized trading cards (collect them all), and be among the first people EVER to test their brand new, top secret STEM kits! They have more prizes and surprises for you!
Sarah helps a student at Friendship Public Schools get excited about presenting his research at the STEM Fair
Sarah meet with Dr. Loretta Web, Organizational and Leadership Development, Former Superintendent of Fairfax Schools (left) and Sue White, Director of STEM for the Friendship Public Charter Schools (center)
On February 24, 2018 Science Cheerleader Sarah attended the Friendship Public Charter School’s STEM Fair in Washington, DC. Sarah is passionate about STEM outreach in the Washington, D.C. area, and is a hometown hero having cheered for the Baltimore Blast, Baltimore Brigade, and Chesapeake Bayhawks! Sarah was able to speak to the participating children, their families, teachers, administrators, and judges, about her passion for science, and how it has influenced her career. Sarah was the first speaker to kick-off the STEM Fair at the Opening Ceremony. It was her priority to help get all of the children excited, and less nervous about the judging of their experiments that would occur later in the day.
The STEM Fair brought students face-to-face with leaders in the STEM industry, who assisted in judging, hosting workshops and various exhibits. During Sarah’s time spent at the STEM Fair, she was able to meet the participants and talk to them about how they came up with their ideas for their projects. Sarah even shared with a few participants that she remembered her science fair project from middle school which was about tooth decay and which drinks (soda, lemonade, tea, and water) cause decay to occur the quickest.
Hi everyone, Science Cheerleader Hilary here to help you get to know Theresa, a PhD student in Chemical Biology at Harvard! Theresa cheered at Superbowl LI for the New England Patriots, and can’t wait to meet you at the USA Science & Engineering Festival at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center on April 7 and 8!
What turned you on to science and when? Both of my parents were engineers so science was always a big part of my education growing up. I participated in science fairs during middle school and high school with projects such as using kites to generate energy from the wind, adding jellyfish to sunscreen to improve the UV protection, or crushing up seashells to make a filter to effectively remove lead from water. This process of learning about the scientific method and finding creative solutions to problems made me excited about science. From these early experiences, I was convinced that I wanted to be involved in scientific research to help progress our knowledge of the world around us and tackle the challenges of disease.
Why did you try out to be a cheerleader? I tried out to be a cheerleader for the Patriots in the spring of 2016, never imagining I would make the team! I had never done cheerleading before, but I was excited about the opportunity to learn something new.
Please describe what you do in your science career on a daily basis.Most of my time is spent in a laboratory. I design and run experiments to prove or disprove hypotheses we might have about a particular biological process. The kinds of tools I use on a daily basis are pipettes, petri dishes, cells, chemicals, and software to analyze data. The goal of my research is to understand the chemistry that occurs in cells and how those processes change in different diseases.
What does it mean for you to be studying in STEM?To me, science is about pursuing knowledge and discovering how the world around us works. Another important aspect of scientific research is understanding diseases and developing new therapeutic treatments. I want to be in science because I enjoy the process of solving these problems, discovering unknowns, and finding new molecular mechanisms of disease. I’m excited about being a part of the scientific community and I hope that my efforts and ideas will advance our understanding of biology and human disease in order to improve the lives of all people.
How do the qualities that make you a great cheerleader benefit you in your science career? I think perhaps the most important aspect of being a cheerleader is being a good teammate and supporting those around you. In science, discoveries rarely happen alone and being able to communicate and work together with a team towards a common goal is necessary for success.
There are stereotypes about cheerleaders in our society that make it seem unlikely that a cheerleader could be a scientist. Obviously, these stereotypes are untrue, and you are a great example of that. How do you feel about breaking down negative stereotypes about cheerleaders and scientists? I think that breaking down negative stereotypes is important particularly as a role model for future scientists and engineers. Every young kid should be able to follow their passion, whatever that may be, and it’s a shame when stereotypes create barriers to pursuing one’s dreams. I knew that I was interested in science from a young age and my mom had been an engineer, so I knew that being a woman in STEM was hard, but possible. When other scientists heard about my decision to audition for the New England Patriots Cheerleaders, they were surprised since it’s definitely not the norm. But, I was eager to pursue this interest and in the end the science community was happy to cheer me on!
Best cheerleading experience? My favorite cheerleading experience was going to Houston for Super Bowl LI. I had the opportunity to share my passion for science at the Children’s Museum in Houston (as a Science Cheerleader!) as we held an interactive exhibit about gravity. Of course, the game itself was incredible and celebrating a great season with so many fans was an experience I’ll always remember!
Best science-related experience? My favorite science experiences are those moments in the lab when an experiment works or you get interesting data. It’s an incredible feeling when you can figure out a new piece of the puzzle. Another favorite experience is communicating science. Whether at a conference, or in writing articles, or talking to friends, communicating about science and sharing my excitement for scientific discovery is always so much fun!
What advice would you give your 12-year-old self? You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. I was always very shy and reserved growing up. I’ve had some exciting scientific and life experiences that wouldn’t have been possible if I didn’t step out of my comfort zone and try something new. From there, it’s just about being open to the serendipity of life and jumping at the opportunities that may come your way.
What’s one thing people might find especially surprising about you? One thing people might find surprising is that I am half Irish and half Chinese and have been Irish step dancing since I was five! Through Irish step dancing I have celebrated my heritage, but I also have had the opportunity to compete internationally in Ireland, England, Scotland, and Canada!
Hi everyone, Science Cheerleader Hilary here to give you an update on Sarah, a child and adolescent therapist who cheered for the Chesapeake Bayhawks, the Baltimore Blast, and the Baltimore Brigade! Sarah cheered on young girls at a local Science Fair at their school in Washington, D.C. this past Saturday. Interested in having Science Cheerleaders at your event? Request an appearance here!
Read on below to hear what Sarah has been up to since we first met her in 2015!
Photo Credit: GCF Photography
What turned you on to STEM and when? I have always known that I wanted to make a difference in the world, but I was not sure how. My father created FlavoRx, a type of flavored medicine to help severely sick children function on a daily basis, by being able to take their medicine. He inspired me to make a change in the world, especially in the STEM field. After pursuing my undergraduate degree (in a non-STEM field), I realized that my career path was heading towards science when I started working at the American Heart Association (AHA). I helped start a program in 2011 called Recess Baltimore, to better enhance the lives of inner-city youths and teach them to become advocates for healthy living. This is an 8-month program that incorporates a curriculum of heart-healthy activities and nutrition lessons. We work with about 250 children in their recreation centers to teach them a curriculum of 10 lessons. We test the children’s knowledge at the beginning of the program and at the end of the program. The program is still around to this day! I ended up leaving the AHA in 2013 to pursue my Master of Science degree for another passion of mine, Clinical Mental Health Counseling, to make a direct impact on clients of mine through talk therapy.
What is your day job like? I am a Child and Adolescent Therapist, and am able to work in four different Baltimore County Schools. I work with middle school and high school clients, helping them to feel more comfortable in their own skin and to how learn to cope better with situations that they are facing. After my day of seeing clients at school, I head to our mental health clinic and see clients there!
Why did you try out to be a professional cheerleader? Since I was 10 years old on my first recreation league cheerleading squad, I have always known that I wanted to be a professional cheerleader. I would watch the professional cheerleaders at sporting events, and tell my parents that one day, that would be me. After I graduated from college, I wanted to be around like-minded women who care about cheerleading as much as I do, and I wanted to become part of the performing and cheering sisterhood.
What does it mean for you to work in STEM? Working in STEM is extremely powerful to me because I know that through my work I am inspiring other women to pursue their dreams. It is important to me because there are fewer women in STEM careers, and I want to keep empowering women never to doubt themselves despite what they want to study and work in. My work is important because it helps my clients believe in themselves, feel like they have an opportunity to be heard, and have a nonjudgmental outlet to discuss life’s issues. I see myself making a better world by helping improve one person’s issues, one client at a time!
How do the qualities that make you a great cheerleader benefit you in your career? I love performing and being in front of a crowd, and I get the same feeling with my career. Even though I am only in front of my clients and sometimes their families when I am counseling, I know at the end of the day I counseled to the best of my ability and was proud of my time with them. I am also a very positive person and teammate. Having a positive outlook helps immensely when working with my clients because at times their stories are not the easiest to handle, but they are looking to me for guidance and I want to provide that to them in a positive and nonjudgmental manner.
How do you feel about breaking down negative stereotypes about cheerleaders? I feel as if I am a stereotype-breaker as a professional cheerleader who works in STEM. When fans ask me what I do, I get really excited to tell them that I am a therapist and have completed my Masters degree. I have had numerous instances when the fan blankly stares at me, and other times when they tell me how impressed they are. However, I didn’t want to get an advanced degree because I wanted to impress people, I wanted to do it because I knew that it would allow me to make the biggest impact on my clients. After I explain to fans what I do, I make sure to say that from a young age I wanted to help people, and now I get to do that every day!
Best cheerleading experience? I am so thankful for all of the experiences I have had on each team that I have been on. However, one of the best cheerleading experiences I have had was becoming one of the inaugural Baltimore Brigade Dancers. It was an honor to be on the first dance team for Baltimore’s Arena football league!
Best STEM-related experience? The best STEM-related experience I have had was crossing the stage when I obtained my Master of Science diploma at graduation! Although, I have had many rewarding STEM-related experiences in my fieldwork leading up to obtaining my degree and after, I believe actually receiving my diploma was the best culmination feeling of all of my hard work!
What advice would you give your 12-year-old self? I would give my 12-year-old self the same advice my father gave to me: persist, persist, persist! Don’t let not being able to do something on your first try deter you from trying again!
What’s one thing people might find especially surprising about you? I started the “I am ABLE” wristband of hope when I was 16 years old. My younger sister Hadley has cerebral palsy and I used to hate when people would make fun of her for being in a wheelchair and being different. Instead of getting angry, I created the bright orange, jelly-like wristbands to get my message across to people. One on side of the band it said “I am ABLE,” and on the other side, it said “SK. HK” for my maiden name initials and my sisters initials because I created the wristbands for her. The meaning of “I am ABLE” is that everyone is ABLE to spread awareness about discrimination against the disabled, and also to treat people equally regardless of how they might look or speak. I was able to speak all over the United States on behalf of my wristbands, and all of the money I raised went to a non-profit organization called Shane’s Inspiration, which creates specialized playgrounds so able-bodied children and disabled children can play together.
The Dana Foundation is a private philanthropic organization committed to advancing brain research and to educating the public in a responsible manner about research’s potential: (1) to develop a better understanding of the brain and its functions; (2) to speed the discovery of treatments for brain disorders; and (3) to combat the stigma of brain disorders through education. Recently, the Dana Foundation published an interview with Science CheerleaderHilary. In the discussion she talked about our mission and what it’s like to do STEM outreach as a Science Cheerleader and a practicing researcher.
Here’s an excerpt:
Do you have any tips for scientists who want to engage with younger audiences to encourage a career in STEM or a general curiosity and love of science?
Personally, the most impactful people in my career path have been those who are truly passionate about their work. When you share that passion with someone, it becomes infectious, and they get excited about what you’re doing, too! I would encourage anyone who is interested in inspiring young people to engage in STEM to reach out to the Science Cheerleaders and get involved, and also to visit the SciStarter site and choose a citizen science project that matches your passions. Collect a group to do the project together, and help solve real problems with top scientists. You can change a young person’s life by helping them take the first step!