It’s hard to keep track of time nowadays. I often find myself trying to remember what day it is, or when was the last time I did something. I have work deadlines and homework assignments, but it all gets jumbled into one big blob of work. There’s just something about being cooped up at home that makes time slip by, unnoticed by my usual measures. That is, until I look out the window. Though quarantine has turned all of our lives upside down, nature stays the course (as always).
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!