Peer pressure is a state of being and survival for school age children. Kids deal with daily pressure to have the right clothes, say the right things and own the right possessions. The pressure bounces off the charts when kids reach junior high.
No one wants to be singled out as “the smart kid” in middle school. You want to be cool, blend in and not receive the “nerd” label.
That’s where Dom Testa, Denver young adult author and radio personality, and the Big Brain Club step in. They want kids to be proud of their intelligence and not feel the need to dumb down to fit in. They tell kids “Smart is Cool.” Now that’s a message we at Steve Spangler Science can get behind.
After working with kids for over 20 years, Testa noticed a silent epidemic of intellectual peer pressure – or kids dumbing down to be considered popular. The Big Brain Club was created in 2003 as an online community for students, teachers and parents to encourage kids to be themselves and take pride in their intelligence.
The club tells kids, “if you really want to impress people, work hard at being the best version of yourself in every way that you can.”
The Big Brain Club now visits schools to make that statement directly to students. After evaluating the technology needs of the school, the Club donates needed equipment to the school. For STEM school Preston Middle School, that meant iPads. Big Brain Club donated three iPads that are now used in the classrooms and media center. The iPads are loaded with education-based application and the teachers help challenge students to with writing exercises and proper research techniques on the web.
The Club also encourages kids to develop their own creative abilities through writing. Students submit creative written works from which the best are chosen for professional publication. The books are copyrighted and registered with the Library of Congress. The students can then call themselves “Published Authors.” The printed books are donated back to the schools to give to students, parents or sell in fundraisers.
The pride of both the students and their parents shine through and it’s something the entire school can get behind. In early 2011, 88 first-time authors all under the age of 14 were published from Preston Middle.
One thing the Big Brain Club was not prepared for was the popularity of the books outside of the school. Readers were not only contained to the school community but were far reaching outside of it.
The Big Brain Club will work with two more schools this fall with projects wrapping up in early January 2012.
The program demonstrates that you can do what you set your mind to. All it takes is your intelligence, your motivation and a little connection.