Famously misattributed to Bill Gates, the quote "Be nice to nerds. Chances are you'll end up working for one," still rings pretty true.
"That's alright, that's okay. You're going to work for us someday," is what my college friends and I shouted at the top of our lungs in support of our winless football team. When the average lineman's weight is lower than his IQ, you have to come up with something to boost morale.Even my mom got in on the pro nerd act, reminding me all through high school that, "He may seem a little geeky now, but nerds definitely make the best husbands." While settling down wasn't exactly top-of-mind my senior year, I paid heed to her advice when prom night came. My date sported horn-rimmed glasses, a yellow tux and looked like he stepped straight out of a Weird Science casting session. I resembled vintage Sarah Jessica Parker in my neon taffeta and oversized corsage. Unfortunately, the look was far more Square Pegs than Sex and the City.
Yes, my geek tendencies still run pretty strong. I am proud of my ability to speak over 250 words a minute, a skill mastered during hours of debate team practice. I can still recite Longfellow's "Midnight Ride of Paul Revere" on demand. And I can't tell you how jazzed up I am to go on my kid's field trip this week to Blue Mound State Park for Civil War Days. The costumed re-enactors will be performing a mock field amputation and will teach us how to can and make soap. What's not to love?
But I guess you would call me more of a "word nerd." I am definitely not a science geek. I hated dissections in school, and, due to my general uneasiness around any blood that isn't my own, never once entertained the thought of being a doctor. I am pretty much only interested in rocks in the form of mounted jewelry. And even though I have lived abroad, I feel more out of place walking the halls of the Computer Science building than I did scaling pyramids in the jungles of Guatemala.
But my kids and I have a unique opportunity to develop a keener appreciation of the hard sciences this week as UW-Madison plays host to the National Science Olympiad Tournament through Saturday. More than 6,000 students, educators and parents from all 50 states will be in the house for the 27th annual tournament. It's one of the nation's most prestigious competitions of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM); we'd be fools not to check it out.
The line-up of events sounds pretty cool. There is the "Helicopters" challenge, a flight endurance contest powered by rubber band engines. And there is "Storm the Castle," a precision catapult exercise. Kind of science fair meets Renaissance Faire.
New this year will be a "Sumo Bots," a boxing match of robots engineered to muscle other robot competitors from a ring. Kind of like a real life "Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots." Maybe next year there will be a way to bring the wonders of science to another toy from my youth, the "Easy Bake Oven." I'd love to be able to actually cook dinner for the whole family using a compact fluorescent light bulb.
FutureLab: The Innovation Expo will be open on Saturday, May 21 in the Engineering Centers Building. This unique traveling expo lets visitors test hydrogen fuel cell cars, play space station simulation games, and view a 3D hologram. And for die-hard sci-fi movie fans, there will be actual props from Star Wars and Alien. If they could only re-enact the "chest busting" dinner scene, they could give those pseudo- Civil War field surgeons a real run for their money.
Here is a full rundown of all events.
Now is the perfect time for my kids to be exposed to all the Science Olympiad has to offer. I hold out hope this expo will motivate them all to delve a little deeper into protons, neutrons and rocketry. Sure seems a lot more practical than talking fast or impersonating Stonewall Jackson.
And we will certainly be nice to all the exhibitors. It's never too early to start buttering up the boss.comments powered by Disqus
If there is an excuse for not working out and eating healthy, I have used it: I don't have time. I'm too tired. I'll start tomorrow. I'm no good at this, I give up. I don't know where to start. Yes, I have used all of these and more.
At almost a year old, my kids are in the blissful stage of life where they'll eat nearly anything that I put in front of them (at least as long as it doesn't require much in the way of molar action).
My family recently went through something that we have not experienced in over eight years. We have become a household that no longer harbors a crib or a changing table.
"There really is no wrong way to do it." That's how Madeline, age 13, describes creating artwork. She and her classmates at Prairie View Middle School in Sun Prairie are honing their artistic skills by participating in the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art's Art on Tour program.
I'm having trouble enjoying the season, because I can't keep myself from thinking about the miserable weather that's sure to be following close on the heels of the crisp, pleasant fall we've been having. I am not at all emotionally prepared to be the parent of two toddlers during a Wisconsin winter.
I've always been a supporter of companies that empower women and girls, and when the creator of such a company is a fellow Wisconsinite, I get even more excited. When Melissa Wardy of Janesville got fed up with stereotypes found in clothing for girls, she started her own company.
Do you have a little reader or an aspiring teenaged writer in your house? If so, you may want to venture to the Wisconsin Book Festival this weekend, to whet their appetite for wonderful words as well as your own.
When I was pregnant with my daughter, my husband and I had two names picked out. Upon her arrival we had not yet come to a conclusion on what that name would be. Everyone told us that when we saw her we would just know. We didn't.
At age 10 months, my kids have seen the zoo a lot already. I was a zoology major in college, and I have something of a zoo addiction still, so the twins (and their dad) are more or less condemned to a future rife with zoo visits.
Home-schooling can be a lonely proposition. Even as a college professor, Juliana Hunt remembers struggling to find support to home-school her now-grown daughter. "I was always hoping to find like-minded people who were in the same position as me," she says. "I know that children learn best through a give-and-take, question-and-answer process of teaching and learning, but where do you find mentors who can make that happen?"
After sleep patterns, I think the next biggest parenting concern I have and hear about revolves around the topic of food. How can I make sure my kids are eating enough vegetables? Did I pack them a lunch that is healthy enough? What can I feed them after school that doesn't come from a box? How many gripes am I going to get about the dinner I'm about to prepare?
As far as places to embark on Baby's First Air Travel go, Dane County Regional Airport is a pretty sound choice, especially at 6 p.m. on a Saturday night. My biggest fear was that my nine-month-old son would start screaming in the airport; my second biggest fear was that my son would start screaming and some of my former Epic colleagues would be around to hear it.
The recent shift in the weather is just another sign that autumn is fast approaching. That means one of my favorite activities is just around the corner -- apple picking. My husband and I have been picking apples every fall since before our kids were born.
I have a lot of questions about what to put on my eight-month-olds' plates -- and, if I'm honest, a deep and abiding fear of putting the wrong thing there. Did I start them on solid foods at the right time? What's the deal with baby-led weaning -- how much self-feeding should they be doing? At what age should I give them potential allergens like shellfish or nut products?
Lily the potbellied pig arrived at Heartland Farm Sanctuary blind, lethargic and too overweight to walk. The children of Heartland's summer day camp program took it upon themselves to put the curl back in her tail.
Is it just me or does each summer seem to go by quicker than the last? The end of summer is upon us and for many families this means the start of a new school year.
This past week, on the way to the grocery store, my daughter asked what I believed she thought would be a innocuous question, "Mom, when are we going back-to-school shopping?"
Volunteering with the Young Writers Summer Camp this past week really helped me to remember how utterly creative kids can be when encouraged to come up with their own ideas and use their own words.
This past week I gleefully accepted an offer for new job on the UW-Madison campus. My kids are getting are older and I guess I've felt for a while now that it was time to figure out what would be next for me on the professional front.
"Kids spend so much time in and around school, it's the only place where some have a chance to develop an appreciation for a healthy lifestyle," says Katie Hensel, founder and executive director of Tri 4 Schools.