Reposted on DiscoverMagazine.com.
Last night, Laura Eilers, AKA Ms. Virginia, was crowned MS. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA! The Science Cheerleaders–current and former NFL and NBA cheerleaders pursuing science and engineering careers–are very fortunate to have Laura as our extremely talented choreographer and creative director.
In addition to being a former cheerleader for the St. Louis Rams, cheerleader and choreographer for the Kansas City Chiefs, and an NFL Hall of Fame Game Cheerleader, she’s also the creator of Going Pro Entertainment, LLC, a network of professional cheerleading and dance alumni.
In school, her favorite science projects included “creating an amoeba structure out of cookie cake and icing, researching anthropologist Dian Fossey and her work with gorillas, and engineering a balsa wood structure that could withstand heavy weights. My team tested the structure repeatedly and competed with other schools for the strongest balsa structure.”
And, yes, she “most definitely believes evolution should be taught to our children.”
And now, I’d like to turn your attention to a recent blog post written by Joshua Rosenau at Thoughts from Kansas. Following up on all the chatter surrounding the Miss USA contestants’ answers to the question of whether evolution should be taught in schools, Josh writes:
I’m glad to see professional cheerleaders and pageant contestants stepping up and talking about science. It has to have been nerve-wracking for the Miss USA contestants to be asked about the question without time to prep, and I think the awkwardness and “ums” and “likes” and “you knows” in the transcript mostly just reflect how people actually talk, especially when we’re nervous. The substance of the Miss USA pageant answers wasn’t at all impressive, but the fact that the pageant thought Miss USA should be able to speak about science education is impressive.
Ms. Virginia, or “huge science geek” Miss California (now Miss USA), can go into rooms and connect with audiences that just don’t care to listen to anything said by me, or PZ Myers, or Richard Dawkins, or Eugenie Scott. So can a professional cheerleader. And if the goal is to make a more science literate society, it behooves us to make sure that women waving pom poms or wearing a sash with a state name on it are just as ready to talk about the joys of science as a doctor in a white coat or a geologist in dusty jeans.
And at the end of the day, I smile every time I see Cavalier play this video. Because why shouldn’t a little girl at a massive science festival want to be a doctor and a teacher and a cheerleader? How better to encourage all of her dreams than to chat with a former professional cheerleader who is now a doctor and cheers for science? Someone else might see that you can call yourself a science geek and a history geek and still be chosen Miss USA, and decide to take her schooling more seriously. And that’s for the best.
Read Josh’s full post here.