THE BIG-BRAINED SUPERHEROES CLUB
A Room with Adaptability

So the grittiness went out of life…At the last minute, when the social machine was clogged hopelessly, one member or other of the family poured in a drop of oil.

-EM Forster

It may not make for a spectacular story, but more than anything, the value of our superpowers lies in their humble ability to take a bit of the grittiness out of life. To unclog the social machine. And so it was on Wednesday, when—thanks, in part, to the Kindness and Teamwork of our friends at Jigsaw Renaissance and Seattle Radio Control—we were able to take a step back from our more grueling superpower exercise and just play…

We soldered:

We K’Nex’d:

We LEGOed:

And we built things out of squishy shapes:

And every once in a while, when we’d have a minor dispute…maybe over a particular building block or an electronics part…we’d exchange that thing for the chance to exercise one of our superpowers. Who would willingly trade a LEGO for an Adaptability superpower? A Big-Brained Superhero that’s who.

Bookmark and Share
"FUNNEST DAY EVER!"

image

Sometimes, it takes a lot more than Willpower to accomplish a mission. In the case of our first ever robot-making field trip, it took the combined superpowers of at least five different organizations and 10 big-brained superheroes to turn our plans into reality.

Thanks to the sponsorship of Brown Paper Tickets and the incredible Kindness of amazing Maker Advocate Tamara Clammer, four of our finest Big-Brained Superheroes got to create their very own mouseybots at today’s Xbot Robotics workshop. On our walk down from Yesler Community Center (which opened early just for us!), we picked up trash in coordination with Nature Consortium for Earth Day. Once we reached the Inscape building, we bided our pre-workshop time by hanging out with the folks at Jigsaw Renaissance, checking out their Arduino library and other fun stuff. Whew! And we did it all before lunch.

When it comes to building robots, Big-Brained Superheroes jump right in…

image

Goodbye wire insulation…

image

Hello circuit creation…

image

It’s time to heat things up…

image

Or maybe fog things up?…

image

A flurry of activity…

image

And mission accomplished…

image

Thank you again, Tamara et al! We have to agree with one of our young big-brained superheroes…this was, indeed, the “funnest day ever!”

Bookmark and Share
Big-Brained Superheroes vs. Negativity

image

Last week, The BBSC got the privilege of meeting two more big-brained superheroes.  Women’s boxing Olympic hopeful Jen Hamann and her coach Tricia Turton of Arcaro Boxing Gym exercised their Kindness and Teamwork superpowers in coming to talk with us about boxing as it pertains to big-brained superhero-dom. A more perfect physical expression of the power of superpowers could not have been asked for. Jen and Tricia addressed so many of the issues our BBSes face on a daily basis, but there was one notion in particular that caught our attention: slipping negativity.

As Jen demonstrated how she slips punches in the ring, she proposed that we big-brained superheroes visualize ourselves slipping the negative words and expressions that tend to come at us (young ones, especially!) in direct and indirect ways every day. We found this concept incredibly powerful. In superpower lingo, we might even call it “Empowerment”ful (ugh).

It seems paradoxical to us, but when we seriously considered which of our superpowers would best connect to the concept of “slipping negativity”, we had to come down on the side of Empowerment: “feeling confident in ourselves”. Amplifying the weirdness of connecting a quintessentially evasive maneuver with Empowerment is the fact that we typically consider Empowerment to be “the One Superpower that rules them all”. Slipping? Really? But Empowerment sounds so strong and dramatic! More like a knockout punch. And slipping sounds so…the opposite of a knockout punch.

Well, we had the chance to explore this question a bit last night when one very young big-brained superhero (not yet a club member) fell into tears in the halls of Yesler Community Center. Having witnessed some of the activity that led up to the tears, we approached this young bbs (whose name we did not know) and asked him if the reason for his sadness was that he felt like the world was against him. The tears wouldn’t let up long enough for him to answer so we quickly noted that we sometimes felt like the world was against us too and could understand.

From there, we hurriedly explained (over his sobs) Jen’s idea of how he might “slip negativity”. And then, we provided a demonstration. “Imagine: negativity—>(slip left)…negativity—>(slip right)…negativity—>(slip left)”. Almost immediately, teary sad face turned into teary perplexed face. As soon as we got teary perplexed face, we asked him if he wanted to give it a try. After abruptly shaking his head “no”, he immediately started slipping the “negativity” that we had already begun to throw at him. And by his third slip, he was actually laughing out loud through his tears. By this time, the very young big-brained superhero’s caretakers had apparently noticed something amiss and rushed over to adjudicate the he-said-she-saids of the tear-inducing incident while we quietly slipped away (Note to potential members: Incident adjudication services are not provided by The Big-Brained Superheroes Club).

Whether this episode serves as an archetypical example of either Jen’s notion of slipping negativity or our BBS idea of exercising Empowerment is debatable. Even so, we were incredibly impressed by how quickly “slipping negativity” changed the nature of the problem with which we were dealing. We went from crying over the world being against us to—at the very least—getting some entertainment out of it. And while it may be that this conclusion is a bit anticlimactic—lacking the drama typical of what we think of as the knockout punch—we have to ask ourselves: “How many knockout punches do we even have in us throughout our lives?”.  And might small little daily slips of negativity pile up into something more powerful than all those punches combined?

Bookmark and Share
Tapping into the Hidden Strengths that All Humans Have

image

Admittedly, the mission of The Big-Brained Superheroes Club is primarily directed toward young people. But one of the more bracing aspects of being a big-brained superhero is that it frequently puts us in a position to discover and value the hidden strengths in adults as well. And these fun and surprising discoveries often go well beyond our select volunteer circle (which you should still join, of course!).

Over the weekend, a member of our extended big-brained superhero community exercised her Kindness superpower in thoughtfully sending us a notice she had found about an upcoming theatre arts supply sale. And yesterday, a couple of us swung by the event on the off chance that we’d find a few BBSC project materials that our tiny budget could afford. When we arrived, however, we were immediately overwhelmed by a myriad of materials and tools of which our club is constantly in need: namely, office supplies. Paper, that is. White/off-white gold. Pressed wood pulp.

Now, typically, one might find a story of the sale of paper goods to be not at all bracing. But that presumes the seller of said paper goods to be not at all bracing. Such was not the case here.

Here enters our newly discovered extended big-brained superhero community member, Julianna, of SPACE. In the process of discussing Julianna’s supplies and materials, we began discussing arts, culture, and people helping people. Like us, Julianna is a volunteer. And her volunteer work is dedicated to helping preserve the space of Warren G. Magnuson Park for the community. Listening to her talk about all of the work her group has done and continues to do was incredibly inspiring. Her Sense of Adventure, Teamwork, Leadership, Empowerment, and Kindness superpowers have clearly been well-exercised. So much so that, upon hearing what we were up to in The Big-Brained Superheroes Club, Julianna offered to simply give us all the paper goods our little car could carry. FREE, that is. Gratis. On the house.

So, with paper, paper clips, pens, markers, scissors, etc, we loaded up the little car until the back windshield was a faint memory. Fresh in our minds, however, were the continually resurgent thoughts of how Kindness begets Kindness. Teamwork begets Teamwork. Empowerment begets Empowerment… Superpowers, that is. Like Julianna, let’s exercise them daily.

Bookmark and Share
The Kids in the Hall Do Math

image

"Can I have a math problem?" is, as we mentioned on Twitter recently, probably our favorite big-brained superhero FAQ. How this tradition got started we don’t recall, but we’ve pretty much given up on making it through the halls of Yesler Community Center without being stopped by this question at least once (mostly at least thrice). And having zero interest in looking a gift horse in the math, roll with it we do. Even if it means scheduling an extra 20 minutes for a trip to the bathroom.

Why do we love this question so much? Well, we know that number talk is important in our early years, and apparently, ready access to basic math knowledge correlates with success on the PSAT. But our love of this question goes much deeper than that. This question, for us, is all about our superpowers:

  1. Sense of Adventure: Anytime big-brained superheroes are eager to solve a problem, they’re exercising their Sense of Adventure. And it all begins with a Sense of Adventure.
  2. Kindness, Empathy, Teamwork: Somehow some way we’ve learned to use math as a means of communication. A point of connection. Contra approaches like this one, our hallway math is a group effort. We suspect this cooperative approach may be good for all our big-brained superheroes but most especially for our girls (who, BTW, are our most frequent inquisitors by far). 
  3. Critical Thinking, Creativity, Adaptability, and Persistence: Hallway math, sans pencil or paper, creates an interesting challenge for us. How difficult can we make it for our big brains and still keep it achievable? How far can we test their boundaries and even their sense of themselves? How can we, ever so briefly and subtly, blow their minds? While it may sound ridiculous, these really are the questions we ask ourselves. All in this quintessentially transitory space.

We love these indisputable reminders that thinking, learning, and connecting can and should be happening everywhere, maybe even especially on the way to the bathroom.

Bookmark and Share
Holiday Shopping Guide: Big-Brained Superhero-worthy Enterprises


View Oh the Places Big-Brained Superheroes Go! in a larger map

We in the Big-Brained Superheroes Club have two great loves: our ability to think spatially and our local donors. (Not necessarily in that order.) In that spirit, we’ve created this lovely map of Seattle Big-Brained Superhero-worthy enterprises (along with our comments!) to help make your local holiday shopping easier this season.  Don’t just shop smart, shop Big-Brained Superhero smart!

And if you own or patronize a local business/project/organization that you consider to be a Big-Brained Superhero-worthy enterprise, please either make or encourage your favorite entrepreneur to make a donation to The Big-Brained Superheroes Club so that we can check it out!  Here are just some of the things we would highly value right now:

  • Tasty, healthy snack foods (we’re a growing bunch)
  • Club t-shirts (we have the design—we need the shirts and printing)
  • Letter tiles (a la Bananagrams or Scrabble)
  • Number tiles (the cleaner and simpler the font, the better)
  • Magformers (tons of them—we want to build build build!)
  • Chess games (no matter how many chess games we get, it never seems to be enough)
  • Office supplies and printing services (all different kinds of papers, pencils, pens, markers, stickers, glues, etc, etc)
  • Your time (seriously, The Big-Brained Superheroes Club is in demand!)

And here’s just one of the many reasons you should donate to The Big-Brained Superheroes Club:image

Happy holidays to all the big-brained superheroes throughout our fair city and beyond!

Bookmark and Share
Our Shared Superpowers

One of the primary missions of The Big-Brained Superheroes Club this summer is to help our Big-Brained Superheroes clearly see themselves as positive actors in the world—to help them realize and build on the best parts of themselves. Along those lines, we’re going to focus on solidifying a language for and an awareness of our superpowers, such as leadership, teamwork, and critical thinking, while we draw, write, invent, and perform.

Our Official Dictionary of Superpowers:

  • Teamwork: joining together to accomplish our mission
  • Leadership: inspiring, encouraging, and being an example to those around us
  • Kindness: being thoughtful and considerate
  • Empathy: feeling/thinking what someone else is feeling/thinking
  • Sense of Adventure: desire to try new things and make mistakes
  • Critical Thinking: questioning our assumptions
  • Adaptability: ability to adjust to new situations
  • Persistence: sticking to a goal
  • Empowerment: feeling confident in ourselves
  • Respect: having regard for others
  • Willpower: being able to intentionally control ourselves with our brains
  • Creativity: giving our brains the freedom to connect things in a new way

UPDATE: Curious about where our particular concept of superpowers came from? Check out our Origins Story Part 1 of X.

Bookmark and Share