I run a lot of races. A lot. Currently I’m on course to run 12 half marathons in a year. And every race I run, I see someone wearing a funny costume. I always wonder why they do it. Just to be silly? To get attention?
And then yesterday, I became one of those people. I ran the Philadelphia Half Marathon dressed as Batwoman. Most people didn’t “get it.” I got a lot of “Go Batgirl!” (close! though she wears yellow accents), and “Go Batman!” because people assume running in a cape who’s not Wonder Woman is probably a guy. My personal favorite was “Go Batlady!” That’s DR. BAT LADY SIR. 🙂
So WHY did I make a fool of myself in public? Because I agreed to as an Act of Whimsy if we raised enough money for the Do-It-Yourself Science Zone at GeekGirlCon.
The DIYSciZone is hugely important to me. For the past two years a group of us led by Dr. Rubidium have gone to Seattle’s GeekGirlCon and set up fun science projects for kids inside the con. GeekGirlCon is a family friendly place that attracts a lot of kids. As such, it’s a golden opportunity to get kids into science.
This year, I taught kids how to measure the width of their hair with a laser pointer. It’s a fun activity that kids love, it gives them personal and unique information about themselves.
But to me, the most important thing is that it’s my opportunity to tell kids that they can do MATH. The laser pointer project requires just a bit of calculations. At first, it looks very complex. But when you break the numbers down, it all becomes multiplication and division. I make anyone over the age of 10 do all their own math. And in 90 percent of cases, they did it just fine. I love seeing kids take math that looks so complicated and solving the puzzle themselves. At first, they often slump and say “oh, I’m bad at math.” Then I guide them through the project.
And they get the math right. And things change. I’ve noticed that many of them smile like anything when their done. Their shoulders straighten. They stand taller.
I’d like to think that I’ve done just a LITTLE bit to convince these kids that math isn’t so bad. That this is something they can do. And that a little bit of math can tell them a lot about the world.
I wish that someone had done the same for me. Had taken the time to show me something like this, and told me that yeah, I was pretty good at math. I want a chance to make that difference to people. Kids or adults, it doesn’t matter.
So I am willing to run a race dressed as Batwoman because we raised enough money to do it! And hopefully, we can do even better next year!