For the last few years, a group of women engineers at Tufts has been running a program called Nerd Girls. Through the program, 14 female engineering undergraduate students from Tufts take part in year-long projects; the current one is to build a renewable energy system for Thacher Island, off the coast of Rockport, MA. The goal is to show that engineering can be a fun and ‘cool’ thing to do for young women. The hope is that this would encourage more girls to get into engineering careers.
Now the Boston Business Journal is reporting that this project could soon be the subject of a new reality TV show. A production company has been filming the women and is shopping the pilot around various broadcasters. I hope this does make it on the air, and on a channel that teenagers would watch. While I’m glad the program includes female engineering students, these students have already chosen engineering as a field of study. It’s the teenagers and pre-teens who need to be targeted and exposed to these role models. Such a show I think would increase the impact of the Nerd Girls program and give kids something a little more constructive to watch on TV than all those other reality shows.
I kind of wish though that they didn’t use the word “nerd” in their title. I know they’re trying to reclaim the use of the word ‘nerd’ and make it a label to be proud of but I worry that its negative connotations would not attract viewers enticed by TV shows with far snazzier names. If I was 14 years old, would I want to watch a show with the word “nerd” in the title?
Are there or have there been any science reality TV shows? Real-life scientists in the lab trying to solve some real-life problems, showing how exciting discovery can be? That could be a good way to show kids what it’s like to be a scientist.