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ASU teams up to show the science of the Super Bowl

Science Cheerleaders
January 28, 2015

Science is probably not the first thing on hometown host fans’ minds as Super Bowl XLIX comes to the Valley, but the ASU Center for Engagement & Training in Science & Society and Arizona Science Center hope to draw more attention to its role as part of the festivities.

From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Jan. 30, the Arizona Science Center will host an event that includes scientists working on cutting-edge helmet technology, innovators developing mouth guard concussion sensors and the Science Cheerleaders – current and former professional cheerleaders pursuing STEM careers.

Sponsoring the event is VICIS, a Seattle-based company currently developing a helmet to help reduce concussions. Co-founders Jonathan Posner and Samuel Browd will discuss neurosurgery and physics and provide hands-on engineering demonstrations related to product development and testing.

Also participating in the event are the Science Cheerleaders, an organization that brings together 250 current and former professional cheerleaders pursuing STEM careers. Founded by ASU faculty member Darlene Cavalier, the Science Cheerleaders participate in events throughout the U.S. where they promote STEM careers and citizen science while also playfully confronting stereotypes of both cheerleaders and STEM professionals.

Throughout the year, the Science Cheerleaders do many events with young girls, particularly youth cheerleaders.

“One important message is that several teams require cheerleaders to have full time jobs. Why not make it science or engineering?” says Cavalier.

They point out the many crossovers between the cheerleading and STEM worlds, such as the emphasis on teamwork, persistence and communication. Cavalier says this overlap is often surprising to many young girls who often think scientists and engineers mostly work alone in a lab.

Science Cheerleaders also attempt to promote citizen science opportunities to adults. Recently the organization participated in an Expert and Citizen Assessment of Science and Technology event at ASU that aimed to engage citizens about future space exploration. At another event, Science Cheerleaders shot microbe collection kits into the audience at a Philadelphia 76ers game.

“We use Science Cheerleaders to cast a very wide net,” says Cavalier. “We activate citizen science projects all over the country and at the same time challenge stereotypes.”

At the event, current and former cheerleaders from the New England Patriots, Arizona Cardinals, Tennessee Titans and Houston Texans will be sharing their STEM and cheer career experiences, giving tours of the Arizona Science Center and doing a “science cheer” with over 100 local Pop Warner youth cheerleaders.

Others participating in the event include Miss Phoenix, a graduate student in ASU’s School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment, and Force Impact Technologies (FIT), a company co-founded by an ASU W. P. Carey School of Business student and alum that is developing mouth guard technology to detect concussions.

Event schedule:

11:00 a.m.: Pep Rally at Heritage & Science Park (Outside of Arizona Science Center)

11:30 a.m.-4 p.m.:

• Science tours: Science Cheerleaders will be giving expert tours in the Science Center depending on their science background in designated galleries.

• Meet-and-greets: with Science Cheerleaders

• Presentations: Jonathan Posner and Samuel Browd will be speaking about the fields of neuroscience and physics to Arizona Science Center guests. Force Impact Technologies, a research group founded by Arizona State University students, will be presenting their spin on safety gear.

• Demonstrations: VICIS will be demonstrating the engineering process for developing safety equipment, and hands-on activities will allow guests to step into the shoes of an engineer to learn about impact testing.

2:00 p.m.: Health and fitness talk with Science Cheerleaders

2:30 p.m.: Science cheer with Science Cheerleaders

For more details about the event, visit the Arizona Science Center website.