At GeekGirlCon, accessibility is everything. Putting together a packed weekend of accessible and inclusive geeky programming is fundamental to GeekGirlCon’s mission. One event that reflects this commitment is our DIY Science Zone. The DIY Science Zone is one of GeekGirlCon’s most unique bits of programming, and this year we’re celebrating its fifth anniversary. Equally as exciting for both kids and adults, the DIY Science Zone brings together scientists, science educators, and science enthusiasts alike to participate in hands-on activities and experiments, chat about various scientific fields, and celebrate accessible learning.
It’s time to get to know another GeekGirlCon staffer! This month, we are talking to Torrey Stenmark, who is an expert in all sorts of geeky endeavors, from gaming to chemistry. Torrey also has some serious skills when it comes to cosplay–she has won numerous awards for her works! Find out about her below.
Who are you and what do you do at GeekGirlCon?
I am Torrey Stenmark, the DIY Science Zone Assistant Manager. I’ve also served on the Programming Selection Committee in past years.
What do you do for your day job/when you’re not being awesome as a GGC staffer?
I teach chemistry (introductory, general, and organic) at Shoreline Community College.
Have you always considered yourself a geek?
At least since college. I’m sure I would have been classified as a geeky or nerdy kid, but I owned the term in college. Back in high school I was a theater kid, which is not quite the same thing.
What sort of geeky things do you like to do in your spare time?
I make and wear science fiction and superhero costumes! I’ve won awards in local and national costume contests. I also volunteer with a couple of costumed charities, in which we dress up to raise money for children’s causes or to visit schools and hospitals. There’s a very special joy in demonstrating to young girls that they can be superheroes too, or showing all kids that they can be both superheroes and princesses.
This is a great era to be a Black geek. Communities like Black Nerd Problems and Black Girl Nerds are catering to a population that has always been present but traditionally ignored within geek circles. Recent films like Dope and TV shows Atlanta are also celebrating the Black nerd (or “blerd”) and giving us a new type of hero for the 21st century: young African-Americans with high IQs, awkwardness, and a penchant for sticky situations. Sleight continues with this movement. The protagonist, Bo, is every geek’s superhero, endowed with little more than intelligence, a good dose of desperation, and, of course, STEM!
By Samantha Lee Donaldson, a guest writer for GeekGirlCon
In 1992, only 21% of individuals coming from families with annual incomes of $25,000 or less qualified for admission to a four-year university, and only . 8% were minority graduates. Unfortunately, the numbers have not changed nearly enough in the last decade. However, with a significant increase in female college enrollment since the 1970s and the rise of women in technology, the ability to teach skills to students from low-income neighborhoods then can be utilized to help them succeed in life on a much larger scale is extremely enticing.
Therefore, when Eben Upton and a group of his colleagues at the University of Cambridge decided to create a cheap and efficient computer that could be used to show children the power of code and computer technology, the game was changed forever. Thus, the Raspberry Pi was born.
By Samantha Lee Donaldson, a guest writer for GeekGirlCon
For many students across the globe coming from low-income households, trade school courses are their life, from the first day of kindergarten to their last day of high school. The skills gap remains a global problem even now. Instead, if these students were given the ability to learn more than the basics which allow them to only receive low-wage professions, they could reverse this trend and help create an economy that reflects a growing parity in no time.
Just as doctors must take the Hippocratic oath, educators are asked to take the educator’s oath. This oath says, “I promise to seek and support policies that promote quality in teaching and learning and to provide all engaged in education the opportunity to achieve excellence.” Despite this, children who come from low-income households are often neglected and the low-income schools they attend are seldom given the amenities necessary to train these children to change the world and their lives, even though studies suggest that the key to power in the workplace is education, especially for women. Therefore, when these children are provided with sub-par education, they are ultimately set up for failure from the start and not given the tools necessary to achieve their goals in life.
After a very long and difficult deliberation, our panels for this year’s convention have been decided, and now we are excited to show you what’s in store for you. Over the next few weeks, we will introduce some of the panels that will be featured at GeekGirlCon ’16!
One of the major areas of geekery that we love here at GeekGirlCon are the sciences. Although we have an amazing DIY Science Zone every year, and our #DIYSciFilm Livetweet events are always a hoot, we also have a huge range of science panels coming up this year. Below are a few samples of what you might see when you come to the convention on October 8 and 9.
It’s been a week since the success of GeekGirlCon ’15, and if you’re already missing it, here’s a roundup of some of the fantastic press we’ve received following our con:
Conshark wrote up a recap of the overall event, highlighting that what makes GeekGirlCon unique is our focus on our community, and Persephone Magazine also offers a great summary of our con, including some livetweets from our panels and a cosplay photo gallery. Becky from No Continues Media describes our con as “one of the most immersive experiences as an attendee I’ve ever had at a convention”, and Whiletrue.do has a short but heartwarming piece on three ways she was inspired at GeekGirlCon. Nicole from Across the Board Games has a recap where she also recounts her experience as an exhibitor and panelist, and describes GeekGirlCon as her favorite convention in Seattle!
Photo by Danny Ngan Photography.
For those of you who like pictures, Jetspace has a great photographic summary of the highlights from the convention, and Bitch Media has a lovely rundown of some of the costumes and events. Of course, GeekGirlCon wouldn’t be GeekGirlCon without a healthy dose of cosplay; GeekMom’s cosplay gallery shows off some of the awesome costumes from the weekend. GeekMom also gives us the lowdown on some of the swag she found on our exhibitor floor, ranging from geeky food, to amazing apparel, to many fluffy, cute things.
Although we hardworking staffers will provide you with panel recaps throughout the coming year, sometimes we get beaten to the punch by our amazing con attendees. [Re]meshed.com has a detailed article on Anita Sarkeesian and Zoe Quinn’s packed panel, and Sonja from Soultamer Gaming has produced not one, but three panel write-ups on QUILTBAGs in Geekdom, the representation of Asians in the media, and Elsa S. Henry’s panel, Blind Lady Versus, where she demonstrates what gaming is like for blind and low vision players. She’s also got a piece on our Kick-Off event from the Friday night before the con. Talk about dedication!
Photo by Nicole Tanner of Pixelkin.
One of the things that GeekGirlCon prides itself on is its family-friendly focus. Nicole from Pixelkin did a lovely write-up about how GeekGirlCon was a great way to bond with her daughter. We also even got a whole episode on a gaming podcast! Here’s Epic Drop’s episode discussion what GeekGirlCon is about, and recapping how much fun the family had, including an interview with a five-year-old Geek Girl!
Finally, we also got coverage from MSNBC in a video about cosplay and science, featuring our own Raychelle Burks and Torrey Stenmark!
Have you come across any other press for GeekGirlCon? Let us know in the comments below!
I didn’t self-identify as a geek for a very long time. As a child, I loved the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles from the 80s, but that wasn’t particularly geeky, because all kids my age liked the Turtles. In a third grade spelling test we were told to spell the longest word we knew, and I managed to get out “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”, not because I was an academic overachiever, but because I thought that Mary Poppins was an awesome movie. I liked reading, but I was much more drawn to writers like Roald Dahl and, later, Jeffrey Archer and Michael Crichton, than Terry Pratchett or Neil Gaiman. I didn’t even touch a Marvel or DC comic until I was about 20.
But the reason I’m writing about my unassumed geekiness is because I was once presented with the question, “but what kind of geek are you?” and I was speechless. That question left me stumped for days. How on earth do you answer something like that? I’ve had geeky interests my whole life, but they just haven’t presented themselves to me as geeky per se. I just thought that they were interests that everyone had. Everyone likes Ninja Turtles, right? Everyone wants to be a superhero, right? Wouldn’t that make everyone a geek?
What you haven’t heard about is the panels and programming we have coming to you for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM)! One of GeekGirlCon’s goals as an organization is to encourage women and girls in these STEM fields, and we have quite a lineup at GeekGirlCon ‘14 to further our goals–and YOURS.
“Notable Women in Science” starts first thing in the morning on Saturday, October 11, at 10 a.m. in room 301. This panel highlights women in the history of science around the world, as well as discussing the role of women in science now. Adrienne Roehrich, GeekGirlCon’s own Manager of Editorial Services, is hosting this panel, and as a member of the Double X Science blog, she is the perfect person for this informative hour.
At 11 a.m. Saturday, you have a choice to make: “3D Printing 101” in room LL2, or “What’s New In Astronomy” in room 301. In 3D Printing 101, you’ll learn about this technical and creative field, and about 3D printers themselves from hosts Breanna Anderson and Ericka M. Johnson. “What’s New In Astronomy” is hosted by Drs. Nicole Gugliucci and Lisa Will, who have degrees in astronomy, physics, and astrophysics. This is not their first time with us – they guided us through plate tectonics, the making of moon craters, lunar phases (using Oreos!), and a physical model of our solar system at GeekGirlCon ‘13.
All you coders — and anyone who wants to know more about coding — head up to room 301 at 1 p.m. Saturday for “Lady Code Warriors: The Future is Coming!” This amazing group of female coders will tell you what working in their fields is like, and answer questions you have about joining them there. The FIRST Robotics Team 2930 Sonic Squirrels will also be presenting in room 303 at 1 p.m. Saturday, if you want to take a look at what this amazing team of teeangers is doing with robotics this year and into the future.
“Pathogens for Everyone?”, at 5 p.m. in room LL3, delves into diseases in the human body, and the role that Seattle Biomed, a local non-profit, plays in combating those diseases and more. Panelists Anja Ollodart, Sally Lyons-Abbott, Suzanne McDermott will steer you through these amazing and complex questions and issues.
If that isn’t enough to get your STEM juices flowing, head over to the GeekGirlConnnections room. There are tables representing tech companies from all over Western Washington, including F5 Networks, Amazon, ArenaNet, and Isilon Storage Divison/EMC. Seattle CoderDojo, Girl Scouts of Western Washington, and the Association for Women in Science are a few of the non-profit organizations who may benefit from your help, and show you how to parlay their amazing programs into benefits for your own lives. There are several tables aimed at getting you the education you need to pursue your goals in the Connections Room as well: Northeastern University – Seattle, Cornish College of the Arts, and the University of Washington Information School.
Room 204 is hosting the GeekGirlCon ‘14 Connections Programming, which you’ll see in your Program Book in the same grids as other convention programming. These panels are geared toward making connections in the working world, whether you’re looking for a job, or just looking to make new contacts in your field. There are even two Meetups happening — social time specific for Women in Tech at 5 p.m. Saturday, and Women in Science at 4 p.m. Sunday. Make contacts you need, or meet new friends!
Fall is in full swing! Check out some of these events to welcome in the changing of the season!
Thursday, October 2: Gender Diversity: Beyond the Binary (UW Seattle Campus, Chemistry Building 439) Gender Diversity: Beyond the Binary is a workshop about gender expressions and identities beyond those of male and female, including different gender expressions, common experiences of trans* and gender-nonconforming persons, and how to make public spaces more accessible to non-binary persons. Join us with QCenter staff Jen Self (PhD, MSW) and Jaimée Marsh (MSW), activists and educators dedicated to fighting oppression in all its forms. A free pizza lunch will be provided!”
Thursday, October 2:Burke Trivia Night at College Inn Pub From NW Science: “The Burke Museum presents a monthly pub quiz for science buffs, culture gurus, and museum lovers. Bring your friends to the College Inn Pub and test your knowledge of the natural world. Compete with other teams for drink vouchers and other prizes. Teams are limited to 6 players. Cost: $5 per team.”
Saturday, October 4:Ladies Night at Fantasium Comics From the website: “Fantasium Comics & Games will be hosting Ladies Night on Saturday, October 4th starting at 4pm. Join us for an evening filled with awesome vendors, awesome foods, awesome people, and an awesome silent auction! We will be raising money for the Pink Ink Fund to help those who have already fought breast cancer and for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation to cure it in the future.”
Sunday, October 5:CroatiaFest From the website: “Seattle Center Festál presents CroatiaFest, Sunday, Oct. 5. Explore and experience the cultural roots and contemporary influences of Croatia through live performances, foods, hands-on activities, and a lively marketplace. Acclaimed dance ensembles and musicians, intricate costumes, art exhibits, tourist information and displays showcase Croatia’s rich past and dynamic present.”
Monday, October 6Open Mic Science: Dr. Phyllis Stabeno From the Treehouse Cafe: “Physical Oceanographer at the NOAA Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory. Co-leader of NOAA’s Ecosystems and Fisheries Oceanography Coordinated Investigations (EcoFOCI). For the past 25 years, she has worked on physical oceanographic, climate and ecosystem projects in the Gulf of Alaska, Bering Sea, Aleutian Islands and more recently, Chukchi Sea. Recently she has focused on climate change impacts on the subarctic seas around Alaska. She is the lead investigator in maintaining the biophysical mooring array in the Bering Sea. She is a Principle Investigator for the North Pacific Research Board sponsored Bering Sea Integrated Ecosystem Research Plan (BSIERP) project and NSF Bering Ecosystem Study (BEST) and has served on the Science Advisory Board for the BEST/BSIERP program since its inception. On October 6, she will give us a presentation on what the data from the long-term mooring tells us about the Bering Sea. These moorings have monitored important biological, chemical and physical properties of Bering Sea water for about 20 years.”
Thursday, October 9:Cornel West: “Rekindling ‘Black Prophetic Fire” From the website: “Trayvon Martin, the New Jim Crow, immigration reform, and an Obama presidency have brought up modern issues of race, equality, and the African American legacy. In his latest book, Union Theological Seminary’s Cornel West explores the phenomenon known as Black Prophetic Fire, offering an analysis of six well-respected African American leaders — Frederick Douglass, W. E. B. Du Bois, Martin Luther King Jr., Ella Baker, Malcolm X, and Ida Wells-Barnett. By both praising and critically analyzing the actions of these influential figures, West takes them off the pedestal they were placed on so long ago. According to West, modern African American leaders are either incarcerated or, like President Obama, have been co-opted and “have no deep conviction.” His book asks where the radical, outspoken spirit — the “black prophetic fire” — of the 19th and 20th centuries disappeared to, and opens a door to potentially “rekindle” it. West is the bestselling author of Race Matters and Democracy Matters.”
Saturday, October 11 – Sunday, October 12:GeekGirlCon It’s our 4th year! Will you be joining us?
Monday, October 13:October Eastside Science Cafe ”’What Are We Buying When We Buy Organic?’ Cynnie Curl, School of Public Health, University of Washington”
Tuesday, October 14:October Tacoma Science Cafe ”’Microbes & Shellfish: Using Science to Reduce Seafood-borne Illness in our Local Water’ Dr. Rohinee Paranjpye, NOAA Fisheries
Saturday, October 18 – Sunday, October 19: TurkFest From the website: “Seattle Center Festal presents TurkFest, Oct. 18 and 19. Explore and experience the cultural roots and contemporary influences of Turkey through live performances, visual arts, hands-on activities, foods, games, an authentic Turkish tea house, and a lively marketplace. This enriching, engaging, and entertaining festival of friendship celebrates the multiple cultures that link modern Turkey to the East and West.”
Friday, October 24:GeekGirlCon Board Game Night at Wayward Coffeehouse From the Meetup page: “Do you love board games and enjoy teaching others how to play? Explore the board/card game hobby and meet folks happy to teach you their favorite board games! No pressure though, you can just come and play with folks who love playing games. And the best part about the GeekGirlCon game nights with our friends at Wayward? They are absolutely FREE with no cover charge! Our group is inclusive and totally newbie-friendly. We play a wide range of modern board and card games as well as some classics. You might find King of Tokyo, Völuspá, Alien Frontiers,Locke & Key, Coup, Tokaido, The Resistance, Skull and Roses,Settlers of Catan, 7 Wonders, Toc Toc Woodman, FLUXX and many more! Bring a game with you or just bring yourself. Join GeekGirlCon staffers, make some new friends, play some games, and enjoy some delicious organic, fair trade, and shade-grown coffee. There are also local pastries and vegetarian/vegan treats, if you get hungry during all that gameplay.”
Friday, October 24:Science Friday Tour From Washington Life Science: “Learn more about medical research through Science Friday events at Benaroya Research Institute that include a light breakfast, conversation with a leading researcher and a lab tour led by scientists.”
Friday, October 24 – Saturday, November 1:Vox Fabuli Puppets and Kendra & Michael Hayes Present Stories for Bad Children Chapter 2 Vox Fabuli Puppets and Kendra & Michael Hayes team up once again to bring you Stories for Bad Children – Chapter 2, a cabaret-style show celebrating the darker paths of the fairy tale world. Stories for Bad Children – Chapter 2 plays at Hugo House, October 24 through November 1st, with a special show on Halloween. *Not intended for actual children. Recommended for patrons 15 years old and up.
Saturday, October 25: Watch the D&D Team marathon 25 hours of “Hoard of the Dragon Queen” From the Meetup page: “GeekGirlCon’s own Gaming Event Coordinator, Andy Munich has been graciously invited to participate in Wizards of the Coast’s 24-hour Dungeons & Dragons session during October 25-26, 2014! Why is this important? These folks are gathering together to raise money for Seattle Children’s Hospital. As a part of the Children’s Miracle Network of hospitals, SCH treats hundreds of children each year, regardless of their family’s ability to pay. Their staff help kids and their families face challenges more harrowing than those found in the deepest dungeon. Andy set a modest goal as part of a greater team effort to raise $25,000 (roughly equivalent to a sack of 20 gold pieces). Andy’s part of the adventure begins at the stroke of midnight on the 26th. Dice will be rolled until they put an arrow in his knee! Tune in to watch the mayhem unfold live on the D&D Twitch TV channel and cheer him on (or pine for his ultimate destruction). If you would like to support Andy during this marathon, you can make a safe donation online today. You’ll be showing your support for heroes, both imagined and very, very real. Donations go directly to the hospital and they are tax-deductible. ALL proceeds go to help the kids at Seattle Children’s Hospital.”
Sunday, October 26:Neal Stephenson and Cory Doctorow with Ed Finn: Reigniting Society’s Ambition with Science Fiction From the website: “Advance tickets for this event have been sold out. A limited number of stand-by tickets will be available at the door starting at 7:15 pm. Author Neal Stephenson (Reamde, Snow Crash) laments our society’s loss of a key superpower — the ability to “Get Big Stuff Done.” He shoulders some of the blame, along with colleagues in the realms of science and speculative fiction, with what he calls a failure to supply “hieroglyphs”: “Asimovian robots, Heinleinian rocket ships, Gibsonian cyberspace… plausible, thought-out pictures of alternate realities in which… compelling innovation has taken place.” Project Hieroglyph brings together writers, artists, scientists, and new technologies in an effort to “reignite the iconic and optimistic visions” of the past, and the new anthology Hieroglyph: Stories and Visions for a Better Future features works from Stephenson, Cory Doctorow (Little Brother,Rapture of the Nerds) and others, to challenge people to think in terms of technology, creativity, and bold futures. They’ll appear in conversation with Ed Finn, one of Hieroglyph’s editors.”
If you have any geeky events you would like to see on Geek About Town, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note that we reserve the right to include or exclude events from our list.