Here’s a picture quiz for you all. In the equation above, A2+B2= what? And what the Pythagoras does it all mean anyway? Answer below and the first one to get it right will get a prize of some kind. Maybe a DIY Volcano kit, because that’s what the kids were doing in the garden with Nathan yesterday. Apparently you should use ketchup instead of vinegar, for optimum ooze.
Why this sudden interest in maths and science? Well, that’s what we’re cycling round to. Last Saturday, we went to the Science Museum for the launch of Project MC2 – a new Netflix series about 4 girls who like science. They’re cool, popular and sassy -oh, so very sassy – but also have mad skills when it comes to engineering, hacking and culinary chemistry. Plus international espionage, obviously. The programme is being accompanied with a range of dolls, each of which comes with its own science experiment…so, let’s meet the girls.
There’s the eponymous Mc2 – McKeyla McAlister. Hipster, spy and new girl in school she exudes a kind of dorky self-confidence that sees the other girls describe her as “I.A.W.A.T.S.T”. For the uniniatied, that’s “Interesting and Weird at the Same Time”. Typical awkward new kid with a secret lab, really.
Then there’s Bryden Bandweth – social media guru and pro hacker, with a good line in geek chic. Nathan was particularly impressed with her Nintendo belt buckle:
Next up is C2 – Camryn Coyle, who was my favourite because she had exactly the kind of red hair that I always strive for. Plus she’s an engineer, with a rocket-powered skateboard:
Eva got a Camryn doll to take home and loves it, although it took her mere minutes to put this engineer into a giant ballgown. I hardly think that’s practical skatewear.
Lastly, here’s Adrienne Attoms – the A2 in the equation. She’s the culinary chemist, creating concotions in the lab that are both delicious and explosive. In the episode we watched, she made a nifty powder for dusting for fingerprints – all from the ingredients you’d find in a baking drawer. I have no idea whether it would work, but I’d assume so. Adri is also a dead ringer for Bernadette from “The Big Bang Theory” – another great female scientist on TV.
Now, I have to admit that I don’t have a child who’s target market for this show. It’s really aimed at the 7-12 market and I would imagine it’d be more appealing to girls than boys. That’s not to say that Roo didn’t enjoy it, but he’s a bit young for sassy American acronyms and a bit too Reuben to appreciate their cool outfits and shiny hair. But I liked it. It didn’t take itself too seriously and it was ultra-fluffy-light while also making a serious point about the need for more women in STEM areas. It’s a good message for both my son and daughter to hear, as we don’t want them to think that their gender limits them in any way (although they’ve both already started saying that certain things are “for boys” or “for girls”…). And it also shows that science can be fun, which I think they both sorta knew anyway.
The launch itself was hosted by Fran Scott of CBBC, herself a female scientist. She showed us an experiment using the power of friction and how layering the pages of a book together produced a glue-like strength. Later on, Roo would try pulling these two books apart in a tug of war and proved that yes, friction really does beat humans every time. Fran was great – full of science knowledge but also chatty and lovely with the kids. I hope she eventually got to enjoy her lunch.
Around the room, there were various science experiments set up including a liquid egg timer, lava lamp making and demonstrating the power of an airzuka:
See that cup? That didn’t stay there for long.
There was also a table of spy exercises, like code breaking and making a fingerprint on a balloon so you could blow it up really big:
Roo really liked all the experiments, making his own lava lamp and a DIY harmonica:
Eva, meanwhile, like playing with the dollies:
Oh yeah, slight flaw with this whole gender equality thing. My kids are the most gender stereotyped children ever. Ah well, keep combing the dolly’s hair Eva and remember…she’s not just pretty, she’s also super-smart.
Which leads me to my slight quibble with the whole thing – why do the girls all have to be so conventionally beautiful? I kinda get it – the show needs to appeal to fashion-conscious tweens and they’re not going to be interested in science if they think it means they have to dress like Amy Farrah Fowler. But all four girls are so slim and have such glossy hair that it’s setting up unrealistic role models, which the media is already awash with. They could have been beautiful in a slightly less obvious way and still been cool. I mean, who wouldn’t be with these kind of fashion statements?:
I think on balance though, it’s OK. It’s setting out to do a similar thing to Buffy – proving that pretty girls aren’t also vacuous and that you can have an important mission and still have good hair. I think it’s also interesting that the damsel in distress in this story is a man. And British, obviously. ..everyone loves a posh British boy.
So, the kids both approved and I think we approved. It’s certainly piqued their interest in science. We’ve already recreated the volcano experiment that comes with Adrienne Attoms, and the lava lamp that (I think) comes with McKeyla. And look, you can buy a whole science playset:
Project MC2 is available to watch on Netflix now. The dolls are available to buy from many places, I expect, but I found some at Argos.