My kids need all the help they can get in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) arena, so I checked out Connect a Million Minds Family Day at Time Warner Cable Studios — and was floored by the interactive inspiration they squeezed into the three levels. The goal was to show kids how science hides in what they’re already doing, like playing sports, cooking, and making music. If my science-phobic kids are any indication, they succeeded!
We learned how you can keep eggs from breaking as you’re cooking, score more goals in soccer, throw longer passes in football, and enhance communication as a sportscaster — all thanks to science. We watched a paralyzed woman rise from her wheelchair and take a step with the help of a wearable robot. The message was clear: Things like this happen when kids focus on STEM education.
As if all that wasn’t cool enough, we got to chat with NY Giants’ wide receiver Victor Cruz.
Parent & Child: “Football player” isn’t the first thing that pops to mind when you hear “STEM.” Why were you so excited to participate in “Connect a Million Minds” Family Day?
Victor Cruz: It really speaks to kids, their lives as a whole — school, sports, and fun. This is acting as a bridge to get kids excited about school and learning science. It’s awesome.
P&C: Lots of kids think, “I have big dreams. I’m going to be a pro athlete, actor, or musician. So I don’t need to worry about grades that much.” What’s your advice to kids like that?
VC: It’s great to have dreams, but you need a Plan B. Almost all kids at one time or another think about doing those things, but most don’t wind up doing it. Think ahead and work hard so you have a safety net. You need to know how you’re going to take care of yourself.
P&C: What’s been your biggest surprise working with this initiative?
VC: It’s been the power of one voice, how much passion for learning I’m able to inspire. Parents and kids have told me how much I helped them or their child reach a place where they excel. That’s been an incredible surprise.
P&C: What was your favorite subject in school?
VC: History. I was fascinated by how people led their lives hundreds of years ago. I loved being able to get that perspective. To think, hundreds of years from now, people will be looking back at our time like ancient history.
P&C: Your daughter, Kennedy, just celebrated her first birthday, so school days are probably still hard to imagine — but what will you say if she says, “Dad, I’m not taking those physics or tech classes. They’re all boys!”?
VC: I’d say, “You won’t like everything you need to do. The only way to move to the next level is to push yourself through uncomfortable situations that will teach you something. It’s small victories like that that instill confidence. Maybe that class isn’t where you picture yourself right away, but if you go into it with a smile, results will come.”
Cruz’s words clearly made an impression on event attendee Christopher, age 10, whose dream is to follow in Mr. Cruz’s pro-football footsteps. On the way out, when asked what he thought of the day, Christopher didn’t hesitate. “I’d better know my physics!”