Everyone is Family and Big-Brained and a Superhero…
For several reasons, we’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about how to characterize The Big-Brained Superheroes Club. Yes, we have many, many meetings and do many, many things. But what do we really do? No matter how many times we turn the problem around in our heads, we keep coming back to the same conclusion: Explaining things is complicated.
Sometimes, we, ourselves, try to explain The Big-Brained Superheroes Club through analogy: “Think Boys & Girls Club—but nerdier—meets Big Brothers Big Sisters—but in a community setting.” Nope.
Sometimes, those who observe and value what we do every week try to offer up their own analogies: “Imagine a science flash mob,” or “They’re…an…afterschool tutoring program…yeah…kind of…”. Nice try, guys!
As always, our young Big-Brained Superheroes are really the best at understanding and explaining the club: “Everyone is family”. True. And as good as that explanation is, it’s simultaneously too complex and too simple to be sufficiently illustrative.
Expand on the family theme with Einstein’s belief of what education should do—“The aim [of education] must be the training of independently acting and thinking individuals who, however, see in the service to the community their highest life problem”. (Third rule of explaining things: If you need to reconcile two seemingly irreconcilable ideas, start by quoting Einstein.)
And then, add to Einstein’s ideals for education our profound reliance on real-life superpowers, and you’re beginning to capture the essence of what it means to be a Big-Brained Superhero.
Big-Brained Superheroes Fight an Epic Battle
He comes back in the room, slaps his half-done homework onto the table in front of him, and puts his head down. It doesn’t take much Empathy to see that he’s feeling defeated, disenfranchised, downtrodden. So, what do we do? Do we reinforce his hurt and insecurities by criticizing him? Tell him to: Suck it up, kid, because learning how to multiply is way more important than whatever is going on in your brain right now?
Big-Brained Superheroes fight epic battles every single day. Some of the battles we all fight every now and then; some of them are fought relentlessly—without truce—by a precious few. Those Big-Brained Superheroes get dispatches, overt and covert, every single day telling them who they are and who they are not. Telling them what they are and are not capable of. And mostly, what they should and should not expect from a world that doesn’t always concern itself with tapping into their hidden strengths. Like the Avengers and like the X-men, they get it. It takes superhuman strength to fight for a world that doesn’t seem to fight so much for you.
Which is why sidekicks exist. Sidekicks may not have all the answers or know exactly what to say or do to defeat the villainy. We may even get distracted from time to time with our own battles. But, by default, we always come back to knowing who our priorities are. And no matter what, when we see a Big-Brained Superhero losing the battle, we know our job is to fight alongside—not against—him. So that when he raises his head, both victory and completed homework in hand, we can be there too. Right by his side. Helping show the world all the amazing things Big-Brained Superheroes, when we work together, can do.
Big-Brained Superheroes vs. Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey
OK. We were going to take a bit of time to talk about how busy we are, but we don’t have any time to talk about how busy we are. So, here’s the deal:
Sunday, June 8th, at 5pm: You should come to Judkins St. Cafe to eat and drink, play games, build stuff, and support The Big-Brained Superheroes Club! We were going to regale you with exclamations about how excited we are for this—our first ever fundraising event—and how it’s going to be an amazing time, etc, etc…Whatever. Just come. You’ll love it.
Digital Logic: Still happening. The exciting news here is that we’ve decided to open up at least one of the later series to the general public with our young Big-Brained Superheroes leading those workshops. If you (or people you know) want a fun, hands-on environment in which to discover the basics of how computers think (which is actually everyone, even if you don’t know it), prepare to sign up. You’ll love it.
Big-Brained Superheroes Club Meetings: Oh yeah. We’re still doing those. Though now we’ve moved into a special room in Yesler Community Center (currently known as “the art room”). There are actual cabinets for us to store materials in. This is very exciting. If you want to join any of our Monday or Wednesday meetings, show up from 5-7pm. Volunteer an evening or two. Just for fun! You’ll love it.
There’s so much more to announce (some big stuff, even!), but that’s all we have time for now. In summary, the current state of Big-Brained Superherodom in a single photo:
We love it!
United We Do!
The profound connections between perspective, process, and possibility were on display during our first ever mini BBSC trip to Seattle’s Mini Maker Faire this year, sponsored by Brown Paper Tickets.
Thanks (once again!) to BPT Maker Advocate, Tamara Clammer, several Big-Brained Superheroes got to do something totally new last weekend. Or, more accurately, we got to do something(s) totally new.
For instance, a few of our BBSes had never before ridden our city’s light rail:
Or ridden the Seattle Center monorail:
Or driven a remote-controlled submarine:
And that was merely the beginning of the boundless process of making our Big-Brained Superhero world just a bit bigger.
Soon, it became time to lay hands on and make.
Simple machines with Xbot:
And simple circuits with Curiosity Hacked:
While the taller BBSes then proceeded to see the world anew through the latest tech:
the shorties split to the Pacific Science Center to embiggen their brains in other ways:
Whew! After a very full day, we returned to Yesler Community Center with heads full of ever-expanding notions of what big brains can do with just a little help from our friends.
Coming Attractions: Big-Brained Superheroes vs. Digital Logic
Hooray! Hooray! Digital Logic is on its way!
That’s right. Remember all that partying we did oh so many months ago? Of course you do. Well, we’re finally preparing to get our digital logic on and are furiously finalizing our workshop plans.
The Big-Brained Superheroes Club will be offering four series of four (4x4) very hands-on workshops open to anyone and everyone who wants to learn the basics of how computers “think”. Each series will comprise four mission-oriented workshops:
- Mission 1: Have fun with Electric Circuits
- Mission 2: Have fun with Logic Gates
- Mission 3: Have even more fun with Logic Gates
- Mission 4: Complete the Logic Gate Challenge!
Workshops will be on Mondays at 6pm at Yesler Community Center starting on these dates:
- Series 1: April 28th
- Series 2: June 2nd
- Series 3: July 21st
- Series 4: August 18th.
(More details, including sign-up information, to follow. To get it in your inbox, join our e-newsletter list in the sidebar over there!) —>
As always, big-brained superhero workshop participants will be working in a positive, rewarding, kinetically-rich environment. So, thanks to the City of Seattle and Somali Community Services of Seattle, we say unto you now: Hero! Prepare to do logic!
Big-Brained Superheroes vs. the Cosmos
A Tower of Teamwork Power
It’s no secret that without our superpowers The Big-Brained Superheroes Club would not exist today. Why does this matter? Because superpowers beget superpowers. For instance…
Yesterday, one of our beautiful Big-Brained Superheroes went from stagnation to meltdown when it came to getting her homework done. It was NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. And while we are officially on record as being homework-ambivalent ourselves, sometimes a superhero’s gotta do what a superhero’s gotta do. In steps a fellow young BBS with her healthy dose of Empathy, Leadership, and Teamwork—not to mention a small arsenal of peanut butter crackers. Less than an hour later: crisis averted, mission accomplished, Empowerment superpower activated. Go Team Big-Brained Superhero!
"How Does Science Work?"
The BBSC recently rolled out a prototype field trip request form, which asks our young BBSes what they want to learn on their desired field trip. Our very first question comes from a 10 year-old BBS: “How does science work?”. The very second question from a 12 year-old BBS: “How do science and math work together?”.
This is what the kids these days are asking. And sadly, while the places we go may be equipped to effectively communicate some science facts, science processes are another matter entirely. Making our field trips yet another way in which we’re reminded that focusing on process (a true Big-Brained Superhero imperative and moving up our priority list almost daily) is still a fringe ideal. Hopefully, Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Cosmos reboot will help us out:
In the meantime, Hank Green can lay down some scientific method on us:
Adaptability is a Helicopter
If Persistence is a Roller Coaster, Adaptability is definitely a helicopter—uniquely capable of getting us into and out of tight spots. This helicopter, started over the holidays, is a perfect example of how Big-Brained Superheroes can build cool stuff through a variety of challenges, including missing parts. And with our helicopter finally complete, we now get to take it back apart and build another machine—maybe this time an airplane or even a hovercraft. If we become experts at Adaptability, our choices are practically limitless.
We talk a lot about superpowers in The BBSC, and we recognize that our dictionary of superpowers isn’t the most conventional or widely adopted. But it seems reasonable to ask: Which superpower would you, in the long term, prefer to master: Flight or Adaptability?
Big-Brained Superheroes on Ice
As much as we love hanging out at Yesler Community Center creating cool stuff, there are just too many superpower-building opportunities available out in the world for us to stay cooped up for too long. And thanks to a thoughtful holiday gift from a member of our extended Big-Brained Superhero community, we were thrilled to exercise our Sense of Adventure, Teamwork, Kindness, and other superpowers on the ice rink at seattlecenter this Winterfest! (We even got in some brief discussions of the principles of inertia and ice formation in the process.) At one point in the festivities, a young BBS wanted to stop and “admire the talent” of one exceptional skater:
So, we did stop and admire her talent. And then, we stopped her to ask about her experience and how much Persistence she puts into learning the skill of ice skating. It turns out that this exceptional skater began skating relatively late in life after she immigrated to the US from Okinawa in her twenties. Since then, she’s practiced as often as five times a week, depending on her scheduling priorities. Though our interaction with her was brief, this obliging ice skater provided more real-life supporting evidence for a few of our basic BBS assumptions:
- "It all begins with a Sense of Adventure.” If we adhere to preconceived notions or rules for when and how we should learn new things, we are likely to fail at the goal of tapping into all of our hidden strengths.
- “Persistence is a roller coaster.” Sometimes our Persistence is powered up, and sometimes it’s powered down. There are many potential explanations for this variability. The only constant here is the fact that we need our Persistence superpower in order to tap into all our hidden strengths.
- “Empowerment is the one superpower that rules them all.” Tapping into your hidden strengths makes you a model—someone whose talent others will want to stop and admire. Taking the time yourself to stop and make those hidden strengths accessible to others makes you a big-brained superhero.