ASU teams up to show the science of the Super Bowl

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. Science Cheerleaders Download Full Image

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.

Jennifer Pillen Banks

Communications program coordinator, Center for Nanotechnology in Society


ASU students get insider's view of sustainability at the Super Bowl

January 28, 2015

After fans have left Super Bowl XLIX on Feb. 1, ASU students from the School of Sustainability will head up a post-Super Bowl recycling project the next day.

It’s an opportunity to demonstrate Arizona State University’s continuous focus on sustainability. compost and recycle bins Download Full Image

“We have the fortunate opportunity to give our students an on-hand experiential opportunity to actually understand sustainability and how it is done in regards to waste diversion by going to the stadium,” said Colin Tetreault, faculty associate at the School of Sustainability.

More than 20 ASU students will be sorting the recyclables from the non-recyclable items in and around the entire stadium.

Most of the sorting and cleanup will be done by hand and is expected to take several hours.

“The students will get to peek into the locker room, almost, of a professional organization like the NFL and how it’s run from a sustainability perspective,” Tetreault said.

The student volunteers, ranging from undergraduates to master’s students, will be treated to lunch at the stadium’s midfield as a thank you for their efforts.

ASU’s commitment to sustainability has been a big part of its involvement in the events around the Super Bowl, and the university even has a booth at Super Bowl Central in downtown Phoenix to highlight its work on the issue. The booth is covered with solar panels, and visitors are able to play hands-on football games powered by the solar energy.

The booth also contains screens playing videos about some of ASU’s accomplishments in the sciences, including the ASU Mars Rover, the creation of the jet pack that can help the military service members run a 4-minute mile, and how ASU collaborates with organizations like the Clinton Global Initiative to support and allow leaders and entrepreneurship.

On the Tempe campus, ASU invited NFL Environmental Program Director Jack Groh to give a lecture Jan. 27 in the Memorial Union to talk about his work.

When he started with the NFL in 1993, Groh said there had never been a can or bottle recycled in a professional sports stadium in the entire country, and no one in sports knew what recycling or waste management was.

Today, Groh said, the Super Bowl is recognized as the greenest professional sports championship in the United States.

“We look at what the benefit is of getting sports involved with sustainability, and I think everyone recognizes the fact that sports attract a lot of attention,” Groh said. “There’s hardly a person in the country who won’t either watch the Super Bowl next Sunday or get deluged by comments of it the next day at work.”

For ASU student Regan O’Brien, who heard Groh’s talk, creating awareness of ASU’s sustainability efforts and helping to show people how to do the simple things like recycle is an important part of a big event coming to town.

“The Super Bowl is a huge party, it’s awesome,” O’Brien, first-year architecture student with a certificate in energy and sustainability, said. “It’s cool how sustainability has become more mainstream, and I think it’s awesome ASU is involved. Sustainability is a buzz word on this campus. I feel like we have our hands in all kinds of pots.”

Written by Samantha Pell, ASU News

Emma Greguska

Reporter, ASU News

(480) 965-9657