By Brady Rhoades
Theresa Oei is a cheerleader for the New England Patriots. She’s additionally a Ph.D. candidate in chemical biology at Harvard College.
Kayla Rossel cheers for the San Francisco 49ers. After getting a Psy.D. in medical psychology, she works as a psychologist specializing in consuming problems.
Tynesha McClain earned her B.S. in molecular physics and biochemistry from Yale College. She’s a meals technologist who’s cheered for the Baltimore Ravens, Baltimore Blast and Chesapeake Bayhawks.
Cheerleaders who’re STEAM professionals?
It bucks stereotypes, however guess what? It’s the norm.
There are Science Cheerleaders on each NFL and NBA group that employs cheerleaders.
These multi-skilled ladies are the center and soul of Science Cheerleaders, Inc., a nationwide nonprofit group of present and former skilled and collegiate cheerleaders pursuing careers in science, expertise, engineering, the humanities and math.
“Virtually each time a lady realizes that I’m an engineer and former pro-cheerleader, I can see the sunshine bulb going off of their minds. I do know the second they unexpectedly imagine in themselves that possibly in the future, they could be a scientist or engineer and likewise a cheerleader, and it’s some of the rewarding emotions,” mentioned Dr. Wendy Brown, Ph.D., director of outreach for Science Cheerleaders.
Brown groups with firm founder Darlene Cavalier, who co-authored The Subject Information to Citizen Science, and Samantha Marsillo, director of operations, as top-tier leaders.
Excessive Kicking the Stereotype
The idea: Science Cheerleaders playfully challenges stereotypes about cheerleaders and girls in STEAM. The group goals to attach with the nation’s 4 million youth cheerleaders by means of a shared curiosity in cheerleading whereas altering perceptions about who scientists are, what they do and who can pursue careers in STEAM.
Leveraging the recognition of sports activities and cheerleading, Science Cheerleaders reaches not solely women but in addition their households and sports activities followers. Some groups, such because the San Francisco 49ers, New England Patriots, Atlanta Falcons and Washington Commanders, function dozens of cheerleaders pursuing STEAM careers.
Science Cheerleaders facilitates in-person and on-line occasions, the place cheerleaders carry out STEAM-themed choreographed routines, lead hands-on science actions, maintain meet and greets, autograph buying and selling playing cards that includes their STEAM and cheer stats and host cheer workshops. Occasions vary from small, rural places to nationwide occasions, similar to acting at halftime throughout a Philadelphia 76ers recreation and on the USA Science and Engineering Competition in Washington, D.C.
Brown was one of many lead researchers for Undertaking MERCCURI (Microbial Ecology Analysis Connecting Citizen and College Researchers on the ISS). Her group enlisted the assistance of 4,000 cheerleaders and sports activities followers to swab footwear and cell telephones for microbes at video games and different Science Cheerleader occasions. This was a part of a analysis and citizen science mission to study if and the way microbes develop in a different way in microgravity than on Earth, which is essential to grasp for long-duration human spaceflight.
These microbes had been analyzed by UC Davis, and 48 samples had been launched on a House X rocket to the Worldwide House Station. In a pleasant shock, a Pop Warner cheerleading group found a beforehand unknown species of microbe whereas engaged on the mission.
Science Cheerleaders, which additionally works with Lady Scouts throughout the nation, created a particular cheer for Scouts:
Mighty Lady Scouts
We’re the Lady Scouts
The mighty mighty Lady Scouts
And we! Love! Science!
Hundreds of thousands of sisters
We’re similar to a group
Nothing will cease us
From reaching our desires!
To see a video of the cheer, go to youtu.be/sWNbpY-sPOM.
Gimme a D for Range!
There’s extra enjoyable stuff.
“We organized an enormous Cheer for Science on the USA Science & Engineering Competition, the place representatives from the U.S. Geological Service had been current to take seismic readings throughout the cheer, whereas tons of of lecture rooms throughout the nation carried out the cheer and used sensors to measure seismic exercise,” mentioned Cavalier. “Whereas that was designed for enjoyable, all of these lecture rooms turned a part of a long-term research with USGS to watch tremors for years to return.”
Each science and cheerleading have gotten extra inclusive and various, not solely onboarding ladies however ethnic minorities. However the progress is sluggish.
Ladies make up 27 % of STEAM employees within the nation, up from eight % in 1970, in response to the U.S. Census Bureau. Forty-eight % of employees within the life sciences are ladies, however solely about 15 % are engineers.
African-People comprise 9 % of employees in STEAM; Hispanics are at eight %, in response to the STEM Schooling Information.
Mentioned Science Cheerleader McClain: “Range has grown leaps and bounds in cheerleading and STEAM. It’s refreshing to see a lot illustration in these areas. I’m envious of the youth right now, as I want I had that sort of publicity after I was rising up.”
Science Cheerleader Rossel concurs. “As an African-American lady, it makes me glad to see that extra cheerleading groups are celebrating younger Black ladies’s pure and cultural hairstyles,” she mentioned. “It’s crucial for younger women to see variety and to have the ability to determine with cheerleaders who’ve comparable hair textures and kinds. By way of variety in STEAM, some STEAM fields are extra various than others.”
‘I Knew I May Do Each!’
So, what’s subsequent for the nonprofit?
“COVID put a pause on all in-person actions, however we stay up for re-activating packages in 2023, together with performances on the USA Science and Engineering Competition in Washington, D.C.; performances at Lady Day at College of Texas, Austin; performances and meet-and-greets on the Pop Warner Cheer & Dance Nationwide Championships in Florida and on the Tremendous Bowl in Arizona,” mentioned Brown. “As well as, we’re within the technique of coordinating appearances scheduled to happen at many science festivals throughout the nation. We’ve utilized to be a part of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, which shall be such an honor for us.”
For a lot of Science Cheerleaders, the perfect a part of the job is seeing the response of younger individuals.
“Surprisingly, women generally react with one thing akin to, ‘I knew I might do each!’ I completely love serving for example that affirms women’ pursuits in science and cheerleading,” Brown mentioned.
Marsillo added, “So many ladies surrender one ardour for the opposite, and we’re right here to point out them that they don’t ever need to make that sacrifice.”
For extra details about Science Cheerleaders, go to sciencecheerleaders.org.