Posts tagged Adaptability

The hands seen here adding up 0s and 1s* belong to one of our big-brained superhero 4th-graders. We love to see how this particular BBS recovers from her mistakes. Rather than getting flustered and frustrated, she remains calm, cool, and Persistent to the end. All the way up to a hundred.

* = This binary counter was designed and developed by one of our big-brained superhero volunteers who received high praise yesterday when one of our young BBSes, after a scrupulous examination of the apparatus, earnestly pronounced said volunteer to be “really good at electronics”.

The Kids in the Hall Do Math


“Can I have a math problem?” is, as we mentioned on Twitter recently, probably our favorite big-brained superhero FAQ. How this tradition got started we don’t recall, but we’ve pretty much given up on making it through the halls of Yesler Community Center without being stopped by this question at least once (mostly at least thrice). And having zero interest in looking a gift horse in the math, roll with it we do. Even if it means scheduling an extra 20 minutes for a trip to the bathroom.

Why do we love this question so much? Well, we know that number talk is important in our early years, and apparently, ready access to basic math knowledge correlates with success on the PSAT. But our love of this question goes much deeper than that. This question, for us, is all about our superpowers:

  1. Sense of Adventure: Anytime big-brained superheroes are eager to solve a problem, they’re exercising their Sense of Adventure. And it all begins with a Sense of Adventure.
  2. Kindness, Empathy, Teamwork: Somehow some way we’ve learned to use math as a means of communication. A point of connection. Contra approaches like this one, our hallway math is a group effort. We suspect this cooperative approach may be good for all our big-brained superheroes but most especially for our girls (who, BTW, are our most frequent inquisitors by far). 
  3. Critical Thinking, Creativity, Adaptability, and Persistence: Hallway math, sans pencil or paper, creates an interesting challenge for us. How difficult can we make it for our big brains and still keep it achievable? How far can we test their boundaries and even their sense of themselves? How can we, ever so briefly and subtly, blow their minds? While it may sound ridiculous, these really are the questions we ask ourselves. All in this quintessentially transitory space.

We love these indisputable reminders that thinking, learning, and connecting can and should be happening everywhere, maybe even especially on the way to the bathroom.

Big-Brained Superhero Designs: Part 1 of X

wonderful watch

This drawing of a “holographic chat watch” was created by one of our big-brained superheroes after a meeting in which we focused specifically on exercising our Creativity superpower. Although that meeting was at least a couple of months ago, we hadn’t seen this drawing until last week. That’s because the big-brained superhero to which this homework had been assigned had gone missing from club meetings throughout all that time. Nonetheless, he carried this drawing around in his notebook until he was able to return. We’re hoping this means he’s serious.

Part of our mission to “tap into the hidden strengths that all young people have” involves helping our big-brained superheroes turn their big ideas into reality. The above drawing represents one big-brained superhero’s idea. That’s a huge first step! And if he’s serious about his idea, our goal is to help him draw up design and requirements documents for a prototype that gets him as close to his design as he can get. From there, we plan to help him find the resources to create his prototype. And finally, we hope to help him build and test it.

Obviously, this project presents a huge test for all of our superpowers—Persistence and Adaptability, in particular. One big challenge will be getting us through the “boring” parts. To that end, we’ll be deploying all of our Leadership and Teamwork superpowers for keeping everyone maximally motivated. Another exciting question we’ll be exploring is how well we are able to adapt our design to fit within price, materials, and engineering constraints. We have no idea whether or not we’ll be successful in this endeavor. But luckily, we have our Sense of Adventure. And that’s a start.

Adaptability v. Persistence

Adaptability and Persistence Superpowers

As anyone familiar with The Big-Brained Superheroes Club knows, we’re big on exercising our superpowers.  And yesterday, our primary focus during our juggling lesson was supposed to be on employing our Persistence superpower.  If at first you don’t succeed, try try again?

We started out yesterday morning with juggling pins in our hands and Persistence on our brains. We ended yesterday morning with those same juggling pins used as tennis ball bats and as microphones for impromptu interviews.  Apparently, Adaptability was going to be the order of the day.  But why?  How?  Were we not persistent enough in our struggle to deploy our Persistence superpowers?  Well, without a parallel universe in which to run simultaneous experiments and observe relative outcomes, it’s hard to say.  But here are some of the results we got out of adapting:

One of our little Big-Brained Superheroes wanted a giant sheet of drawing paper (the reverse side of construction plans that we had found in a recycle bin in an alley), but we were out. The only paper we were able to scrounge up was a partial sheet that had already been turned into what we might simply title “Meditation on a Single Circle”. We then discussed deploying our Adaptability superpower to make do with the materials we had available. Without so much as a grimace, our little Big-Brained Superhero took that Meditation in hand and went to work on it.

Several minutes later, a few other Big-Brained Superheroes were arguing over the use of a toy.  Adaptability superpowers engage!  "What’s ‘adaptability’?“  "Adaptability is the ability to adjust new situations,” etcetera, etcetera.  Almost as if on cue, our little creative Big-Brained Superhero with the partial sheet of paper came over to show off her work.  It was amazing!  Not only did our little Big-Brained Superhero make use of leftover materials, she incorporated the art that was already on it into her own creation.  She remixed it, if you will.  We held up her work as a brilliant example of Adaptability, and within minutes, our obstinate group of squabblers had adapted to their constraints and resolved their argument–even engaging their Teamwork superpower in the process.

It’s easy to look back on yesterday and view it as a failure of Persistence.  Maybe we should have worked harder…been more disciplinarian…argued/cajoled/dominated our Big Brain Superheroes into sticking to our original goal.  Or maybe, in doing so, we ourselves would have been seen as obstinate.  If only we had that parallel universe…

Our Shared Superpowers

One of the primary missions of The Big-Brained Superheroes Club this summer is to help our Big-Brained Superheroes clearly see themselves as positive actors in the world–to help them realize and build on the best parts of themselves. Along those lines, we’re going to focus on solidifying a language for and an awareness of our superpowers, such as leadership, teamwork, and critical thinking, while we draw, write, invent, and perform.

Our Official Dictionary of Superpowers:

  • Teamwork: joining together to accomplish our mission
  • Leadership: inspiring, encouraging, and being an example to those around us
  • Kindness: being thoughtful and considerate
  • Empathy: feeling/thinking what someone else is feeling/thinking
  • Sense of Adventure: desire to try new things and make mistakes
  • Critical Thinking: questioning our assumptions
  • Adaptability: ability to adjust to new situations
  • Persistence: sticking to a goal
  • Empowerment: feeling confident in ourselves
  • Respect: having regard for others
  • Willpower: being able to intentionally control ourselves with our brains
  • Creativity: giving our brains the freedom to connect things in a new way

UPDATE: Curious about where our particular concept of superpowers came from? Check out our Origins Story Part 1 of X.