Posts tagged origin stories
The BBS Depolarization Station Begins
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Along with some stress, there can be joy in not knowing how a plan will come together. The Big-Brained Superhero Depolarization Station began life as an idea for a BBSC fundraiser initiated by our teens who wanted to raise funds by bringing people together around foods from their diverse cultural backgrounds. But because this is The Big-Brained Superheroes Club, we, of course, had to nerd it up. And with our penguin and polar bear robots being the two remaining robots still in progress from our recycled robotic ocean combined with our food and planet-friendly craft ideas, the Depolarization Station is born. But that’s the short version.

The real world is, of course, much more complicated, and as one might infer, persistence and adaptability (along with all the other superpowers) were absolutely vital to the success of this mission. In our recent BBSC Bulletin, we mention just a few of the challenges we faced when preparing for and implementing this event. Here are some of the more technical challenges we managed, starting with the base station itself.

A Big Brain vs. a big box

A Big Brain vs. a big box

The base station: Our original plan was to try to borrow some sort of utility cart to serve as the base for our mobile operation, but our intended source’s cart was unavailable at this time. Since one of our local salvage stores, Ballard Reuse, was having a 20% off post-Thanksgiving sale, we went in search of, and our eye happened to land on a nifty crate for shipping scientific instruments for $20. With the addition of some hardware we found on the Internet and wheels we had stashed in a cabinet, we now have a rolling cart that can completely come apart, which will be great for future events as well. Our main additional improvements for this station going forward will be bigger (preferably 4+”) wheels (we felt every crack in the sidewalk with our current casters) and a shelf we can insert inside. And if we ever get around to it, maybe we’ll stencil on the BBSC logo just for fun.

Big Brain vs. power drill

Big Brain vs. power drill

The depolarization hood: With rain being a definite possibility for this event, we didn’t want drenched polar bots. So, with a few shipping tubes we had salvaged from a dumpster years ago, some tin cans hot glued to some old pegboard (also from Ballard Reuse from many moons ago), a few zip ties, and some cardboard from shipping and Cheez-it boxes, we had our hood. For decoration, we sprayed it white (in between bouts of rainfall), wrote our superpowers on it in marker, and attached our upcycled plastic water bottle solar-powered light string. The Depolarization Station sign on top was drawn and stenciled by some exceptionally talented Big Buddies. If we needed rain protection, we now had a frame on which to attach it, and as an added bonus, the hood served as the frame from which to hang our polar bear.

Big Brain Helen and volunteer Decontee attach the polar bear legs

Big Brain Helen and volunteer Decontee attach the polar bear legs

The polar bear: Ahhh….polar bear…how you have tormented us! The development of the polar bear alone could fill a blog post, but its challenges essentially boil down to technology failing to work as advertised. Big Brain Thelma, who envisioned the polar bear so very long ago (it was actually the very first ocean robot started!), cut its shape out of cardboard and added packing peanuts for texture, observed polar bear motion using online videos, and with her team, programmed its 4-servo motion using Micro:bit. However, after trying to implement the project with two different Micro:bit motor shields and burning out countless Micro:bits and shields (we still have no idea how/why), we finally gave in and implemented with Arduino. Which worked like a charm. Power was supplied by an old external battery, which very sadly for us, was lost to the streets of Seattle during this event. So, we’ll be searching for a new external battery for all of our mobile robotics needs.

The penguin: The penguin team designed this bot so long ago, but implementation remained elusive with their original penguin form made from recycled cardboard. Essentially, they had no place to put the components so that they would all stick together. So, we re-implemented by forming a large plastic bottle into a penguin body with another plastic container formed into a removable head. Inside the body is a geared LEGO motor connected to Micro:bit via motor shield, powered by 9-volt battery stashed in the head. the penguin waddles with offset LEGO cams as feet. Zip ties keep the unit together. Big Brain Helen did the penguin painting based on an online photo. Teamwork makes penguin robots work.

Penguin bot design team: Big Brains Justin, Andre, Jamal, and Andre and Jamal’s mom

Penguin bot design team: Big Brains Justin, Andre, Jamal, and Andre and Jamal’s mom

All this is to say that depolarizing Seattle is a pretty big undertaking, involving quite a few ins, outs, and what-have-yous, all of which are only addressed through intensive superpower exercise and some pretty basic resources. Thanks to:

  • 4Culture

  • Fred Meyer

  • Ada’s Technical Books

among many others, not to mention Big Brains, Big Buddies, moms, and volunteers, we had the resources we needed to achieve this goal. But there’s always more depolarization to do. If you want Big-Brained Superheroes to continue to build on their accomplishments, please donate today! Nerdiness doesn’t just happen; together, we make it happen.

Elements of a Big Brain Storm: part 2 (the thunder)
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In part one of our Elements of a Big Brain Storm story, we discussed the most visible and discrete aspects of our Brain Storms: the activities. These activities are analogous to the lightning of our storms because they’re the most obvious aspects of what we do, and their contours are most easily discerned. In this part of the story, we’ll try to articulate the less easily individuated elements of our storms: some of the underlying qualities that sort of blend together to make up the feeling or vibe that reverberates through the very best Big Brain Storms. The thunder of the Big Brain Storm is probably most easily articulated through example:

At one point during our open house party in December, one of our partygoers figured out how to illuminate our Galaxy of Light, and the room suddenly burst into applause. And before that, a Big-Brained Superhero initiated the nerding up of the The BBSC City of Light by deciding to add that galaxy. And before that, that very Big Brain got his galactic inspiration from when he tagged onto a NASA newscast project other Big Brains were developing in preparation for our Pizza, Planets, and PJs Party devoted to Hidden Figures. And before that, Big Brains started throwing Pizza, Planets, and PJs parties to watch @neildegrassetysonofficial’s reboot of Cosmos on the community center tv when it first came out in 2014. In the midst of all that was the collective development of the City of Light, circuit wall, and Cardboard Godzilla, each of which has its own origin story that feeds directly into our galaxy.

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So, what exactly is the origin story for the Galaxy of Light? Where, when, how, and why does it start and end? Or does it end? For such a tiny, insignificant patchwork, there are quite a few threads. From Elements of a Big Brain Storm: part 1 (the lightning), we can easily see some of the basic elements that went into the creation of our galaxy: circuits, science, storytelling, etc. But those are just the technologies deployed. Underneath, around, and within those elements are continual conversations between and among Big Brains, Big Buddies, and volunteer sidekicks about who we are, what we’re doing, and how we’re going about the business of building our Universe.

Since we’re frequently talking input, process, output when discussing robotics/computational thinking, we’ll apply this framework to describing what we consider to be some of the most important elements of our Big Brain Storms:

Input areas of interest include:

  • From where are Big Brains drawing their inspiration?

  • How many sources of inspiration (including senses) are they using?

  • How wide is their range of source material?

  • How specific and nuanced are their observations of both their immediate environment and whatever other source material they are using?

Process areas of interest include:

  • Are Big Brains having fun?

  • How adventurous are Big Brains being when choosing their projects and activities?

  • How much are Brains challenging themselves?

  • How specific and thought-out are their questions?

  • How are they going about answering their questions?

  • Are they working together and getting help from other Brains?

  • How are they contributing to the community?

Output areas of interest include:

  • Are Big Brains achieving their goals?

  • Are their achievements more permanent/tangible or are they more transitory/intangible?

  • How are individual and collective Big Brain achievements building on each other?

These being elements that generate some of the thunder of our Big Brain Storms, we don’t have any preset or predetermined answers to these questions. We haven’t studied the exact number of optimal inspiration sources a Brain should be leveraging, for example. It’s possible the number is out there, of course, but with so many variables within any given Brain Storm, we’re skeptical that we’ll find one number to rule them all. So, we go with the, for lack of a better word, vibe. We feel it and sense it more than we typically see it. But that doesn’t mean it’s not real or not important. In fact, if anything, the vibe is often where it all begins.

To make up for not having a more complete understanding/explanation of these elements, we offer the God of Thunder:

Elements of a Big Brain Storm: part 1 (the lightning)
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On Mondays and Wednesdays from 5 to 7pm in The Big-Brained Superheroes Club, Big-Brained Superheroes drop in and engage in Big Brain Storm activities, which we loosely group into three interrelated categories: Recycled Robotics, Math and Spatial Relationship Skill-building, and Storytelling. Though relatively confident in our collective ability to nerd up nearly any activity (’what’ is generally much less important than ‘how’ for us), there is at least a tiny bit of method to our madness in all things. Here are the ‘what’ we do in Big Brain Storm meetings and our understood rationale for doing it:

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What: Recycled Robotics, involving:

  • Micro:bit/Scratch/CODE.org,

  • circuits and electronics,

  • binary math, switches, and digital logic,

  • 3D and 2D art with recycled materials

Some Examples:

Why: Where to start? There are a myriad of ways in which to understand the ‘why’ behind our gravitation toward recycled robotics, but let’s stick with a few of the moderately prosaic reasons for now. Big Brains use recycled robotics as a platform to explore several useful concepts related to technological, human, and social development:

  • Ar-ti-cu-la-tion: In many ways, understanding how to build a robot can be analogous to understanding how we build ourselves. When we’re developing robots, we are thinking about their inputs (their observations and influences from the physical world), their desired outputs (the specific ways in which we want them to affect or influence the world), and their processes—both intentional (code) and unintentional (bugs)—that connect, or fail to connect, their inputs and their outputs. In our ideal world, Big-Brained Superheroes have infinite power over each of these elements of their own lives, and gaining that power can, if we do it right, start through analyzing and manipulating them externally—in this case, through building robots.

  • Connection: Sure, it’s perfectly fine to build fully independent robots, but we’d rather build robots that respond to and initiate communication (behavioral or otherwise) with each other or some other part of The Big-Brained Superhero Universe. In our ideal world, not only do Big-Brained Superheroes have ultimate power over how they observe, understand, and interact with the world as individuals, they think about the systemic affects of their individual actions and how systems in turn affect them. Placing our robots in an interactive world in which communication drives communication gives us a useful opportunity to discuss how our own communications influence each other.

  • Creativity: Creativity, generally, and metaphorical thinking, in particular, are ways in which human and social development have thus far diverged from technological development. We’ve learned how to create robots to analyze and interact with the world, but we haven’t yet learned to create a robot that can look at a pile of used cardboard and plastic packaging material and envision a robot. So, using recyclables to create our robots gives us an opportunity to exercise those more complex functions of our brains that make Big-Brained Superheroes creators of worlds rather than just products of them.

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What: Math and Spatial Reasoning Skill-building, including:

  • building with LEGO, Magformer, and wooden blocks,

  • symmetrical art with recycled materials,

  • Prodigy and Osmo

Some Examples:

Why: Though this activity class started out as a way to fulfill the immediate wants and needs of Big-Brained Super Shorties (Big Brains roughly 7 and under), it has evolved as a fundamental platform for engaging and nerding up Big Brains of all ages and interests. We’ve used the materials in all kinds of randomly fun ways, including in completing what we call The LEGO Challenge (finding an image in a book and challenging Brains to build it out of LEGO in a timed situation and then having the rest of the club evaluate their work), using the dots on the LEGO pieces to discuss how addition, multiplication, and fractions work, and making things float with Magformers. To name a few. These stations are always available to Big Brains during Big Brain Storms and thus can also serve as social play areas during project breaks.

Aside from all the immediate value that we see ourselves, we are persuaded as to the longer term value of these activities by the social science on them:

Spatial skills are positively correlated with standardized test scores, motivation for learning, STEM major declaration, and number of science courses taken. Our analysis also indicates that the cumulative, informal training of childhood play has the ability to increase spatial reasoning. Spatial skill scores were significantly higher among students who played action, construction, or sports video games in childhood. Male and female students display significant differences in spatial skills, especially for mental rotation, with males outperforming females. However, gender disparities are fully mediated after adjusting for a variety of academic factors and whether students frequently played with construction-based toys.

For whatever directions Big-Brained Superheroes choose to go in life, their brains require preparation. Meaningful access to these toys can help make that possible.

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What: Storytelling, involving:

  • videography, photography, and stop-motion,

  • writing and editing,

  • drawing,

  • material art and science

Some Examples:

Why: Again, we have so many reasons underlying our interest in storytelling, it’s hard to know where to begin. For starters, if we want to get people to our People, Planets, and PJs Party, it helps to consider what tools we can use to persuade them. And if we’re going to present our Jellyfish Robot at the Black in Tech hackathon at Facebook, we’re going to want to construct our presentation in a way that holds everyone’s interest. And we can go on and on about how good stories engage our brains in helpful ways (empathy, kindness, teamwork—all those superpowers). But all these practical considerations aside, we have a more basic rationale for integrating this category of activities into our Big Brain Storms. The tools and techniques used in storytelling can, when thoughtfully explored and applied, help our Big Brains become better observers, thinkers, and communicators.

If this sounds a lot like our rationale for leveraging Recycled Robotics as a platform in The BBSC, then it should. Input (observation)—process (thinking)—output (communication) can pretty much sum up how we understand what we do in Big Brain Storms as skill in those areas is fairly fundamental to the act of creation. Which is a perfect example of why ‘how’ is much more important to us than ‘what’. As long as we’re conscientiously and skillfully developing these three elements of how Big Brains understand and interact with the world, then our activities can be pretty arbitrary and just as much based in practical constraints and happenstance as anything else. But since we can’t directly see input—process—output, we find it more palatable to discuss the physical platforms through which we explore these elements. In other words, our activities are the lightning in our Big Brain Storms. Part two of this series will consider the thunder.

And now, your reward for getting elemental with us:

You’re welcome.

A BBS Universe Evolution: Making MARS

Through November and December of 2017, the BBS universe underwent a startling evolution, the details of which you can (and definitely should!) explore here.

Part of our universe evolution included the development of what we’ve come to call our Mobile Artistic Rendering Station (aka MARS). MARS addresses two longstanding challenges we’ve faced in the Big Brains:

  • Our cardboard and pegboard construction materials have had a tendency to devolve into an unwieldy chaotic pile;
  • The process of scouring the community center for large standing whiteboards has often hindered our project readiness.

Given our space constraints, it made sense to address both of these challenges with a single solution. So, MARS is formed:

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First, our Big Buddies were tasked with measuring all the diverse dimensions of the 2x4s that Tamara, a kind and generous BBS benefactor, salvaged from the dumpster of the construction company for which she worked. Buddies then chose the combination of boards that would best fit the dimensions described in the diagram we had created.


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After measuring twice, Big Buddies, using our handy and fairly safe oscillating saw, cut the lengths required for the MARS out of boards they had scrubbed and prepared for the project.


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Next came the pilot holes and deck screws to secure the frame to the platform.


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There was a lot of practice and teamwork involved in using power tools for the first time.


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Once Buddies modified the design a bit by adding boards across the tops of the long sides, they attached, after much ado, two 3x5(ish) whiteboards. With some locking casters thrown on, MARS was ready to roll.


MARS, fully loaded.


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Great work, Big Brain Buddies!

The Infinite Burden of Being Cardboard Godzilla
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Cardboard Godzilla’s humble origins date back to late 2015, as we were nearing the end of our second or third stage of development on our City of Light, when one (or more) Brains suggested the need for a villain. A complexly powerful symbol of the folly of men, Godzilla was the obvious choice. So, on December 31st, Big Brain Buddy Eva deftly made the first cut of what, so far, has been a year-long intermittent creation of several Brains.

Through Godzilla, Brains have explored and explained the fundamental concept of input, process, output:

Brains have learned about and played with servos:

And Brains have developed a bit of hardware and software in the process:

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But mostly, through Godzilla, Brains have exercised Persistence and Adaptability. Poor Cardboard Godzilla has been up and down, on and off his S-hook, at least ten or fifteen times over the last year. His first animation involved his LED eye and “roaring sound” that initiate when the door to The BBSC Lair is open. Then, came his “fire breath”, which happens next in the loop. Finally (so far), his back arm also moves up and down in the process. In that sense, Cardboard Godzilla is our first home-made robotic platform—a tool for exercising all the superpowers as well as helpful motivation for developing new skills.

We want Godzilla to declare, “I’m going to destroy your city!”? Well, we’re going to have to figure out how to do that.

It’s this almost magical ability to inspire and facilitate iteration that makes art, specifically art made by Big-Brained Superheroes out of real-world junk, so valuable to The Big-Brained Superheroes Club. It’s a special kind of burden for a giant piece of cardboard to serve as an outlet for so many different Big Brains imagining, making, breaking, reimagining, and making again, but somehow, Cardboard Godzilla has managed to carry it for a little over a year now. If he weren’t such a complexly powerful symbol and quirky labor of love, it’s unlikely he would have been able to handle it. And in spite of all the ups and downs, he hasn’t even neared his half-life yet. Go Go Godzilla!

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Bonus: Cardboard Godzilla has also helped introduce a whole new Big Brain generation to a cult classic:

(PS Omar, Moody, Marwa, and fam, we miss you!)

Our Radical Agenda
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When BBS Muz posted on our Facebook page, she talked about why The BBSC is so important to her:

You should donate because this isn’t any standard program. This program it is not run by adults. The kids run the program, and this is good because this shows the kids how it is in the real world. We also teach S.T.E.A.M, and we teach the kids to ask specific questions. “I need help!!”, you can say it, but you got to be specific.

This is an important program for me because it shows girls that S.T.E.A.M is for all genders. I didn’t believe this till i came to Big Brains.

In the beginning, it seems simple and straightforward enough. You see a bunch of kids doing not much of anything fantastic outside of school, and you ask them what it would take to get them doing something fantastic. They tell you. You then bring your own interests and caveats to the table. Negotiations ensue. Fantastic stuff starts to happen. Done and done.

Or so it seems.

Starting off this thing as an all-volunteer endeavor—everyone pitching in their own time and resources—is what made it possible in the first place. We were lucky. But luck doesn’t necessarily last. Or scale. So, off we go in search of outside resources.

Lucky again, the first grant application we had ever written was approved by Seattle’s Technology Matching Fund. Of course, this isn’t money to just make fantastic stuff happen. This is money for a project, planned out a year in advance, with outcomes specified a year in advance. Money that we needed to match with our own time and resources. Still. Money!

Thanks to the City of Seattle Community Technology Program (and SparkFun and Google and Blucora and several other places) for tools and materials and to Yesler Community Center for program space, we started to build our STEAM lab. Still all volunteers, still all doing fantastic stuff outside of school.

And apparently, in this case, “if you build it, they will come,” is for real. More and more Big-Brained Superheroes were coming to do fantastic stuff after school. The extent of our outreach was showing up and talking to the kids in the hall. Mostly asking them math problems. That’s it.

As demand grew, our search for resources grew more intense. We formed a board full of Yesler moms and BBSC volunteers. We checked all the items off the list: 501c3 status—check, Washington State business licenses—check, insurance and bookkeeping services—check and check. And all that stuff required was more time and money. Money! Thanks to the Satterberg and Norcliffe foundations, we got that stuff done.

But we still need to run a program four days a week.

So, off we go in search of more resources. And the more we search, the more we fully realize why there aren’t more Big-Brained Superheroes Clubs throughout the land. It’s not as if no one’s thought of this before. Problem: not enough fantastic stuff happening. Solution: Talk to people, make fantastic stuff happen. Achievement unlocked. Ironically, that’s the part that seems the most obvious to everyone. The part that few seem to get down is finding the resources to keep it going.

And our first successful grant yields a clue: project. Project project project. Everyone loves projects! We’ve done lots and lots of projects. Projects planned years in advance even. With outcomes set years in advance even. But when we go back to what Big-Brained Superheroes like Muz love best about The BBSC, it’s:

This program it is not run by adults. The kids run the program, and this is good because this shows the kids how it is in the real world.

Muz is eleven years old. The thing that, to her, makes The BBSC special is that eleven year-olds like her get to come in and, through various negotiations and caveats, make their own decisions about their own fantastic projects. Any eleven year-old that can meaningfully define a project and set outcomes a year in advance is an eleven year-old that has no need for The Big-Brained Superheroes Club. Muz’s independent projects are not getting supported by project grants anytime soon.

And that, among many other reasons, is why Big Brains like Muz need you! Muz’s radical agenda is to have the tools, resources, and support she needs to pursue her interests and develop her superpowers. She’s not in The BBSC to raise her grades or gain workforce skills (though she may be doing those things, that’s not her agenda). She’s in it to do fantastic stuff outside of school. And we’re in it to help her do fantastic stuff outside of school.

We’ve been lucky to find a few organizations (yay BECU!) that support a ‘do fantastic stuff’ agenda. But those are few and far between. And the paradox is that, without this underlying baseline of support, the projects that everyone else wants don’t happen. Our agenda may be radical, but sometimes, being radical is the only way to get the job done.

Please consider supporting The BBSC this holiday season! We promise to make lots of fantastic stuff happen outside of school.

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Meet The Big-Brained Superheroes Club Board
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Alex – Alex Allred has worked with nonprofit organizations for over 10 years, most recently with 826 (an afterschool writing and tutoring center) as a member of the management team for eight years. Currently, she runs her own business, Balance Bookkeeping. Alex joined The BBSC’s board in 2015.


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Amina — Amina Shali is the mother of two Big-Brained Superheroes and joined the board after seeing how much her 10-year-old daughter enjoyed participating in BBSC.  Originally from Kenya, she has lived in Seattle – Yesler Terrace, specifically - for eight years.


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Ashley – Ashley Seni has a master’s degree from Stanford University in materials science and works as a solutions engineer for DatStat. She began her association with The BBSC as a volunteer sidekick and has enjoyed it so much she also joined the board. 


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Fadumo – Born in Somalia, Fadumo Isaq moved to Seattle (Yesler Terrace) in 1999. She operates a child care business from home and volunteers in a variety of community initiatives. Fadumo has raised nine children in Yesler Terrace. She is a proud grandmother of one of The BBSC’s youngest superheroes.


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Frewoini – A long-time resident of Yesler Terrace and parent of two superheroes, Frewoini Gugsa is an active community volunteer and has served on the boards of several area nonprofit organizations.


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Meredith – A long-time Seattle-ite, Meredith has a Master of Science degree in Human­ Centered Design and Engineering from the University of Washington. As a Yesler Terrace volunteer (2011), she saw a need for a club where Yesler kids would have a safe, stable place to develop their potential to learn and create. So she did something about it and founded The BBSC.


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Rachida — Rachida Maurou is the mother of three Big-Brained Superheroes, ages eight, six, and five, who have been active in BBSC since discovering it last summer. She has lived in Seattle’s Yesler Terrace community since moving to Seattle from Togo (West Africa) nine years ago. What does she love about Seattle? The water.


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Thom – By day, Thom McDonald is a Facebook production engineer. But each Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, Thom becomes one of The BBSC’s most veteran sidekicks – he has volunteered for BBSC since 2011 (when it was a homework help service). Thom has lived in Seattle for 16 years.


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Zahra – Long-time Yesler Terrace resident Zahra Ostero is better known to her neighbors as Mama Zahra; the “mama” is in recognition of her leadership role in the Yesler community. A refugee from Somalia, Mama Zahra is the mother of three Big-Brained Superheroes and visits The BBSC regularly.

Let it Fly
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This airplane was a Big-Brained Superhero reward that got its original wings and tail mangled and, consequently, ended up in the project pile. It’s now on its fifth or sixth set of prototype wings/tail thanks to the singular interest of one young BBS, who, every time he walks through the club door, heads straight to the plane and keeps trying new design combinations until he has to go home. Once it flies again, it’s his to keep, but that seems to be only part of his motivation.

We’d love it if the process of getting Big Brains independently, deeply involved in relatively complex projects were as simple as defining objectives and supplying materials and rewards. But Big Brains just don’t work that way. In fact, for a very long time, this particular Big Brain had been obsessing over finding a way to earn an iPod. His single-minded devotion to the subject gave us a whole new appreciation for his Persistence superpower. However, it seems that finally feeling secure that he has a way to achieve his iPod goal has given him the freedom to passionately pursue other, more remote, interests. Flights of fancy first—all else can wait.

We spend quite a bit of time in The BBSC trying to figure out how to create this exact scenario—a Brain relentlessly exercising all of its superpowers for a creative purpose. And while we are still at the stage in which we just feel lucky when it happens, here are some of the things we know we need to have in order to make it possible:

  1. An environment that feels reliable and secure—Big Brains must know that they have the power to get all of their basic needs, perceived or otherwise, met. This sounds simple, but the standards for physical and emotional security seem to vary pretty dramatically from Big Brain to Big Brain, so meeting all of them sometimes feels like an impossibility. We’re constantly looking for ways to improve in this area, but we’ve got the basics (food, meaningful boundaries and expectations, laughter, etc) down well enough to satisfy a reasonable number of BBSes to varying degrees. We have a dream that, one day, we’ll be able to design for the toughest Brain out there, meet all of our goals and objectives, and bring everyone else along for the ride. Still working on it.
  2. All kinds of weird stuff lying around—While our Big Brains definitely need their comfort zones, in order to create, they also need inspiration and opportunities to get out of those comfort zones. We have yet to find a better way to provide that inspiration and opportunity than through stuff. Preferably weird stuff that they don’t see everyday. That can be broken. And maybe put back together.
  3. Ways to connect the dots—Internet, books, tools, humans. Our Big Brains need to have ways to learn what they don’t already know and colleagues to bounce ideas off of. For general purposes, we probably use our tiny book library more than our Internet, but that may be because our wireless is flaky and our devices are fragile. For technology purposes, we tend to use our devices. Regardless, just having a resource collection creates possibility.
  4. Magic—Call it Dark Matter, the Force, whatever. This is the placeholder for all of the needs we have yet to specifically identify but have seen impressions of. At the moment, there’s a bit more of this than we’d care to admit.

Regardless of where we are relative to where we want to be when it comes to providing all the things a Big-Brained Superhero needs, there’s one thing we’re pretty sure of: If we can make it possible, our Big-Brained Superheroes can make it happen.

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Remaking Failure (part 1 of x)

So, in February, we hosted this great Re-Maker Fest, which was inspiring and informative and all kinds of brain-embiggening, and, not coincidentally, has us reconsidering failure (again). In the course of that event, we made a challenge for ourselves to see how many things we could remake before the end of the month (in this case, it turned out to be within the next three BBSC meetings). The results:

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We started off strong—taking apart this doll in the hopes of turning it into something new. And we did turn it into something new: a collection of doll parts. That’s something.


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And then, as we mentioned in our previous post, we attempted to turn some broken crayon bits and leftover cardboard into artwork. In summary: If you’ve ever wondered what happens when you try to put a new spin (literally) on melty crayon art, now you know.


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Finally, we combined our magnetized electronics, a metal vent thingy, some vellum paper and tiny clothespins (all of these items are used items) with a bunch of shapes we had lying around to make a light play box. The takeaway: Add some magnets and a bit of string and maybe we’ve found a new crazy/creepy use for that doll parts collection.

From our point-of-view, these remaking experiences are just part of the process. A process that some might look at and think is a waste of perfectly good broken dolls, crayons, and random parts. And if the remaking process ended here, we would probably agree. But it doesn’t and it won’t. Which is why this is just part 1 of x of our Remaking Failure.

Debunking a Superpower Myth

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When we talk about what we do in The BBSC, we sometimes hear, “That’s great that you’re teaching kids Persistence (or Willpower or [insert superpower here])”. We appreciate where this comment comes from, but for a whole variety of reasons, it’s important for us to debunk this myth. We aren’t actually teaching kids these superpowers, and this fact highlights a core precept of Big-Brained Superherodom:

All these superpowers are integral to all Big-Brained Superheroes. And Big-Brained Superheroes simply must exercise their superpowers at some point (they can’t not).

Anyone who has ever watched BBSes play an online video game, for instance, has seen that they already have Persistence (and Willpower and [insert superpower here]). And it’s at least partially their need to exercise those superpowers that compels them to play in the first place.

What we in The BBSC are trying to do is decontextualize these extremely valuable abilities so that we can help isolate them, strengthen them, and prepare our BBSes to intentionally apply them to a variety of contexts. Why is it important for us sidekicks to see superpowers and our goals for them in this way?

  1. Efficiency: We don’t have to be playing basketball to talk about Teamwork and Leadership. And we don’t have to be drawing a picture to talk about Creativity and Sense of Adventure. All of our actions are composed of superpowers, and it’s our job to see these abilities, value them, and reward (or possibly redirect) their use at every opportunity.
  2. Efficacy: When BBSes get off track, it’s important for us to be able to pinpoint the source of the problem as accurately as possible in order to help remedy the situation. Our experience has indicated that BBS challenges are almost always related to either conflicted motivations or any number of various incorrect preconceptions. Lack of ability has yet to be a significant hindrance for any BBS we’ve encountered so far, so misattributing problems to that would hinder our success as sidekicks.

In short, we sidekicks are not teachers. If anything, we’re little more than motivators, facilitators, and sometimes explicators. We all bring our superpowers, and we all help each other exercise them. And while the way we construct—and deconstruct—this process does have its challenges (and yes, even its flaws), it’s the best method we’ve found so far for breaking through barriers and getting down to business tapping into hidden strengths.

Everyone is Family and Big-Brained and a Superhero...
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For several reasons, we’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about how to characterize The Big-Brained Superheroes Club. Yes, we have many, many meetings and do many, many things. But what do we really do? No matter how many times we turn the problem around in our heads, we keep coming back to the same conclusion: Explaining things is complicated.

Sometimes, we, ourselves, try to explain The Big-Brained Superheroes Club through analogy: “Think Boys & Girls Club—but nerdier—meets Big Brothers Big Sisters—but in a community setting.” Nope.

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Sometimes, those who observe and value what we do every week try to offer up their own analogies: “Imagine a science flash mob,” or “They’re…an…afterschool tutoring program…yeah…kind of…”. Nice try, guys!

As always, our young Big-Brained Superheroes are really the best at understanding and explaining the club: “Everyone is family”. True. And as good as that explanation is, it’s simultaneously too complex and too simple to be sufficiently illustrative.

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Expand on the family theme with Einstein’s belief of what education should do—“The aim [of education] must be the training of independently acting and thinking individuals who, however, see in the service to the community their highest life problem”. (Third rule of explaining things: If you need to reconcile two seemingly irreconcilable ideas, start by quoting Einstein.)

And then, add to Einstein’s ideals for education our profound reliance on real-life superpowers, and you’re beginning to capture the essence of what it means to be a Big-Brained Superhero.

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Simple, right?

Big-Brained Superheroes Fight an Epic Battle

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He comes back in the room, slaps his half-done homework onto the table in front of him, and puts his head down. It doesn’t take much Empathy to see that he’s feeling defeated, disenfranchised, downtrodden. So, what do we do? Do we reinforce his hurt and insecurities by criticizing him? Tell him to: Suck it up, kid, because learning how to multiply is way more important than whatever is going on in your brain right now?

Big-Brained Superheroes fight epic battles every single day. Some of the battles we all fight every now and then; some of them are fought relentlessly—without truce—by a precious few. Those Big-Brained Superheroes get dispatches, overt and covert, every single day telling them who they are and who they are not. Telling them what they are and are not capable of. And mostly, what they should and should not expect from a world that doesn’t always concern itself with tapping into their hidden strengths. Like the Avengers and like the X-men, they get it. It takes superhuman strength to fight for a world that doesn’t seem to fight so much for you.

Which is why sidekicks exist. Sidekicks may not have all the answers or know exactly what to say or do to defeat the villainy. We may even get distracted from time to time with our own battles. But, by default, we always come back to knowing who our priorities are. And no matter what, when we see a Big-Brained Superhero losing the battle, we know our job is to fight alongside—not against—him. So that when he raises his head, both victory and completed homework in hand, we can be there too. Right by his side. Helping show the world all the amazing things Big-Brained Superheroes, when we work together, can do.

Big-Brained Superheroes vs. The Filter

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One of the topics that comes up quite frequently with regard to The BBSC is our membership policy. As we explained many moons ago, The BBSC is an entirely voluntary, minimal barrier-to-entry after school/summer program open to pretty much anyone who happens to be around and wants to participate. No one is compelled to join and no one is prohibited from joining. Consequently, our 1-year BBSC roster is well over 115 Big-Brained Superheroes long while our meeting participation numbers can vary by as many as 35 young BBSes.

It’s easy to imagine the liabilities associated with this type of “structure”, and the reasons why it is so rarely embraced are innumerable. As we big-brained superheroes like to say, “If it were simple, everyone would be doing it.” But in spite of the many potentially rewarding aspects of applying The Filter, we have refrained for many reasons. For starters, those expunged by The Filter must invariably end up somewhere. And we deeply care where that is. Beyond this, where others may see a preponderance of liabilities in our program’s structure, we see assets:

  1. Our BBS volunteers and young BBSes get A LOT of superpower exercise. Seriously. A lot. And for a program, such as ours, dedicated to the exercise of superpowers, this asset is a biggie. It’s amazing what shifting the focus from fundamental outcomes to fundamental processes can do for a superhero.
  2. There’s tremendous power in diversity. Character and quirkiness are endemic to our Big-Brained Superheroes, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. Our young BBSes, in particular, come from so many different backgrounds and speak such a diversity of languages that they can’t help but be creative in their problem-solving (as well as in their troublemaking). And Creativity is a hugely important superpower to us.
  3. Our potential is limitless as is our capacity for surprise. By focusing on the whole instead of the part, we BBS volunteers willfully avoid categorizing and pigeon-holing our young BBSes. Who they are one day may be completely different from who they are the next, and it’s everyone’s job to see and stretch the potential in each set of strengths our fellow club members exhibit. While this may be a seemingly impossible task, we are big-brained superheroes, and it’s what we do.

So, why enumerate our structural assets now? Well, our recent Tumblr reminder that this website/blog is 1 year old combined with our human tendency to mark and ritualize certain measures of time may have something to do with it. Second, it’s just a good reminder for all of us—young and less young—as to why we do this business at least twice a week.  Finally, we all know what they say…superheroes gotta superpower.

Big-Brained Superheroes vs. a World Too Small

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Several months ago, one of our young big-brained superheroes asked a few of us BBS volunteers to attend her school play. This is the kind of thing we are always up for. Soccer games, school fairs, performances…if they ask, we do everything we can to get there. Not only because we big-brained superheroes stick together but because these events give us unique opportunities to learn much more about our young BBSes, and hopefully, create a better club as a result.

So, attend her performance we did, and learn we did. For instance, we learned from her teacher that our young BBS was struggling with her multiplication. This surprised us somewhat because, while we knew math was not her very favorite subject, she had always been able to accomplish what we asked of her. So, of course, the first thing we did was quiz her verbally in the school hallway while we waited for her mom to pick her up after the play.

“9X3?” “27.” “8X5?” “40.” “6X6?” “36.”…

This young big-brained superhero answered every multiplication question we threw at her, casually and without hesitation. Just hanging out in the hallway, she went well above the level her teacher told us she was stuck at in class. Immediately, we had a sense of the problem, but just to be sure, we quizzed her again at our next BBSC meeting. Same result. And such is another deeply unsatisfying aspect of focusing so directly on outcomes—tests, in particular. We, quite frequently, aren’t very good at knowing what they measure.

In this case, the situation wasn’t as it might have seemed—that our young hero was incapable of doing multiplication. The situation was simply that she wasn’t completing 100 multiplication problems in class, on this particular test as written, within the 5 minutes allotted. And, to add yet more complexity to the situation, it was probably one of the more favorable aspects of her personality that kept her from succeeding in this area. She is a very calm, congenial young Big-Brained Superhero. And as such, she is less likely to feel the pressure one might need to feel in order to complete 100 problems in 5 minutes. If we had to guess, she simply proceeded to take this test in her own way—in her own time.

Ultimately, of course, we did have to guess. Because the test she took did very little to measure her fundamental knowledge of multiplication. There were simply too many variables involved. This is hardly a new or unusual phenomenon. But, from a distance, that’s frequently not how it seems. When looking at report cards and aggregate test scores, we often unconsciously view these as concrete, even objective, measures. Teachers may know better (or, at least, they should), but even with that knowledge, any amelioration efforts may seem ultimately futile.

Tests are everywhere. And yet, as far as we can tell, the process of much academic testing involves taking a whole wide world of variables, confounding them with even more variables, and then thinking we learned something from the outcome. And maybe we did learn something. But sadly, we probably don’t know what that is.

What the "A"?: Why We See "STEM" as a Path to Failure

Field Trip Failure

On a very rainy day last spring, a few kids from Yesler Community Center boisterously piled into a Honda Civic on their way to see a little movie that had just come out, which you may have heard of, called The Avengers. This was our first ever field trip reward for our after school homework help program, and in pretty much every measurable way, it was a failure. Kid there without permission slip; permission slip there without kid; no kid, no permission slip; you name it. As a result, we ended up with about half of our projected attendance. Keyword here: (F)ailure.

Now, if you’ve read The Big-Brained Superheroes Club Origins: Part 1 of X, you may have a sense of where this whole thing is going. This post is essentially a prequel to that one (We’ll leave it up to you to decide whether this prequel is more Christopher Nolan or George Lucas). In short, if we were purely STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) and data-driven decision-making were our only guiding star, The Big-Brained Superheroes Club would likely not exist today.

Upon return from the failed field trip, the attendees were all quiet…for a change.  One of our 11 year-old boys didn’t have time to discuss it because he simply had to “go write a poem”. And when we asked a round-faced, supremely stoic young girl covered in Hijab who was her favorite Avenger, she smiled broadly with her eyes: “Captain America”. Captain America Unkempt“Captain America?” Really? Not Black Widow who had the brass to say, “Maybe it’s not about guns,” in a superhero movie!? Not the scintillating scene-stealer Iron Man? But, rather, the conventionally wooden throwback to the 40s whose most exotic feature was his spangly outfit? That guy? We had to get to the bottom of this. And get to the bottom of it we did when we embarked on our mission to determine what made Captain America cool. It was from that mission that the basis of The Big-Brained Superheroes Club was formed.

We can argue all day about what constitutes scientific vs. artistic thinking. In truth, we see a lot of overlap ourselves. But words require meaning, and in the language of superpowers, we rely pretty heavily on Critical Thinking to be our pathway into scientific thinking. Data, math, logic…all of these tools are absolutely necessary for us to analyze, to communicate, to determine. However, for us, these tools are by no means sufficient. Without our pathways into what we currently consider artistic thinking—our Creativity and Sense of Adventure superpowers—we come up short. All of our carefully discerned patterns would never develop into themes. So, just like Albert Einstein, we big-brained superheroes need our (A)rt. STEAM is the word.

The Kids in the Hall Do Math

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“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.

Failure and Success in Addressing Opportunity Gaps

But there's nothing to dooooooo!

Little Rascals aficionados may have noticed a vaguely familiar cadence in The Big-Brained Superheroes Club nomenclature. Some may consider our name silly. We, however, take it quite seriously.

One of the raisons d'etre of The Big-Brained Superheroes Club is to provide a place for those of us who don’t necessarily have a place. We sometimes affectionately think of ourselves as “the riffraff”. Consequently, there are no major signup requirements—no parental signatures needed—for admission to the club. The only real requirement is that we adhere to The Big-Brained Superheroes Club Oath at all times. And if any of us fails to adhere to the oath, we get expelled from that evening’s meeting. Expulsion can be a harsh sentence, as one of our young big-brained superheroes discovered recently (see the above artist’s rendering of real-life events). So, we try to avoid it at all costs.

Why we’ve devoted ourselves to this particular model has to do with the opportunity gap that others have studied (and that we, ourselves, have observed):

Wealthy families can and do spend more money on music and art lessons, tutors, and summer camp for their children that help them get ahead, while low-income kids often go home after school to unsafe neighborhoods, with little supervision and fewer positive outlets for their time and energy. The extended time movement is meant to correct those inequalities by offering the same diverse array of activities and adult mentors to disadvantaged children.

And while Yesler Community Center houses fabulous art activities for kids who wish to drop in (courtesy of The Nature Consortium), we see value and interest in throwing some science and superpowers into the mix. The challenges inherent in such an endeavor are vast and varied, but one of the benefits is that it forces us to exercise our superpowers in some fairly extreme ways. In particular, our Creativity and Sense of Adventure are constantly getting a workout while we're searching for ways to tap into the hidden strengths that all (young) humans have.

In theory, it could work, she says, but it’s often resource intensive and takes the space and time for creative outside-the-box thinking.

Indeed. As observed in the above artist’s rendering of real-life events, we’re not always successful. However, in the rare moments we have considered ourselves successful, we’ve identified a few of our, what we in the big-brained superhero biz call, “assets”. So, in the interest of anecdotal science, here are some of the things that we think have helped us tap into some of those hidden strengths:

  1. We are where the young people want to be. When we were kids we probably would have rather shot our eye out than remain an extra second at school. And we consider it probable that our young big-brained superheroes feel similarly. Yesler Community Center is currently our home, and it’s a huge asset in that kids go there willingly. Because they want to.
  2. We are always trying to maximize opportunities. Recently, Yesler CC provided accommodations for a holiday party where hundreds of kids lined up in the hopes of procuring some loot from a jolly old fat man in a red suit. Lined up kids (and parents) = opportunities. So, while other (real) volunteers were handing out stickers and posing in Disney costumes, we riffraff were working the insanely long line administering “The Big-Brained Superhero Test”. It’s amazing how many varieties of math problems you can do without pencil and paper: “What’s 6 x 3? What’s 6+6? What’s 12+6? What’s 18/3? What’s 1/3rd of 18? What’s 2/3rds of 18?…” It’s also amazing what kids will do voluntarily in order to avoid staring blankly around them or talking to their parents.
  3. We are utterly shameless in our use of almost any motivational tool. Shop smart; shop BBSmart! And though we haven’t used food as a direct motivator (and have no immediate plans to do so), we do provide snacks.
  4. We are profoundly enthusiastic about what we’re doing. We are big-brained superheroes, and a big-brained superhero’s credo is to Always Be Superpowering. If we’re not living it, we’re not teaching it.
  5. We have a handbook. And handbooks are for heroes.
  6. We are them; they are us. It may be obvious by now that The Big-Brained Superheroes Club truly is a group endeavor. We the experienced (aka old) big-brained superheroes are there to provide opportunity, adventure, and minimal boundaries. When young ones come to us for help, we want them to do so mostly because they value our ideas and suggestions…not necessarily because we’re authority figures. And while we do drop the hammer from time to time (have we mentioned the above artist’s rendering of real-life events?), it’s only ever in the interest of the group. Trust and goodwill are our most valuable currency—we don’t squander those on delusions of grandeur.

Now, we’re sure there’s more where these six assets came from, but those will have to come in due time.  Finally, here’s your reward for making it this far:

Utterly. Shameless.

The Big-Brained Superheroes Club Origins: Part 3 of X

BBS Buck

Subtitled: A Promise Kept.

In a recent installment of The Big-Brained Superheroes’ Handbook, we briefly discussed how the Big-Brained Superheroes Club economy works.  Basically, big-brained superheroes (yes, we’re moving beyond proper noun status—Oxford English Dictionary, here we come!) get rewarded for exercising their superpowers, such as Empathy, Kindness, Persistence, Sense of Adventure, etc.  Or, as we sometimes simplistically put it: We essentially created an economy based on being a nice person.  But our goals are quite a bit loftier than that.  We don’t want to just meet expectations as far as these skills are concerned.  We want to exceed expectations.  That’s why, when choosing a name for ourselves, we eschewed The Averagely Nice Person’s Club for something a bit more in line with our expectations and abilities.

However, one thing a big-brained superhero understands is that expectations and abilities aren’t enough to achieve our goals.  Another essential is motivation.  And while we’d all love to feel that the act of becoming a big-brained superhero is its own reward, inertia ain’t just a central rudiment of Newton’s First Law of Motion, if you know what we mean.  OK, what we mean is that getting from here to there takes work—both mental and physical.  It’s the mental work that we needed to jumpstart.

If you’ve read about Who we are…, you have a very general sense of how we’ve evolved as a club thus far.  However, there’s a muddle in the middle about how our reward system evolved*.  First, we tried various combinations of stickers and raffle tickets.  Over the summer, we moved to “powerbadges” (which were also stickers).  And, finally, The Big-Brained Superheroes Club mercantile is in effect.  And while the mercantile has only been in operation for a little over a month, it’s a clear winner in terms of both motivation and capacity building.

The motivational benefits of the BBSC mercantile (BBSmart?) are similar to those of the raffle system we were previously using in that both the bank and the raffle tickets enable real-time, rapid rewarding (essential for our young BBSes, we’ve found) and even provide a springboard for negotiation (sometimes, BBSes will engage us on how much they think their work is worth; we frequently encourage these discussions).  However, there are several benefits of the mercantile over the raffle.  First, the raffle outcome would sometimes feel unfair (to all parties), and as a result, it would actually demotivate.  We have much more control over how our current market system works.   Second, BBSes like to see their bank accounts grow day after day, so it’s got longer term motivation-driving potential.  In that respect, the market can do more to exercise our Persistence and Willpower superpowers than our raffle could.  Finally, as we mentioned in the handbook appendix, the market gives us a chance to price store items at the beginning of a club meeting, providing both a quick hit of motivation early on and a chance to do some negotiation and consensus-building.

As far as capacity building goes, the underlying philosophy of the BBSC is oriented toward helping us all help ourselves.  The finding and exercising of our superpowers is one aspect of that.  However, the BBS market system enables us to learn about other fundamental aspects of our current daily lives.  Money, math, interest, savings…those are useful things for us all to understand in today’s America.  But beyond that, we want our market to provide a basic intellectual foundation for some more direct entrepreneurial activities we are working toward.  Our nice-person-based economy knows no bounds!

* We should note, emphatically, that The Big-Brained Superheroes Club also evolved from rewarding general work to rewarding specific work, as we briefly address here.

The Big-Brained Superheroes' Handbook: Part 3 of X

Vitruvian Superhero

Yesterday, over half of our volunteer staff couldn’t make it to our Big-Brained Superheroes Club meeting. And being the small group that we are, we missed them severely. However, the shortage gave us a great opportunity to exercise our Adaptability superpower, and the way in which we exercised our Adaptability superpower brings us to Part 3 of X of our Big-Brained Superheroes’ Handbook

Rule #3: Playin’ for keeps is still playin’. (Thank you, Gambit.)  As you may have noticed by now, The Big-Brained Superheroes Club has very little use for somber. Sincere surely. Subtle sporadically. But somber scarcely.  The truth is that we Big-Brained Superheroes take our responsibilities so seriously that we simply can’t afford somber. Somber carries far too many opportunity costs.

The calculation is simple: How many hours in our lives are any of us going to be able/willing to sit somberly learning?  Now, how many hours are there in our lives? If we can agree that the answer to the first question is a small subset of the answer to the second question, we can start to see the cost of somber.  We can frequently do the sitting; we can frequently do the learning; we just can’t frequently do the somber. And if we, consciously or unconsciously, start to equate the learning with the somber, then, well, we’re losing countless opportunities.

So, when we ventured forth yesterday with 3/7ths of our volunteer staff, we chose to seek our learning opportunities on the basketball court, where somber isn’t even an option. And where the generally established rules and goals of the game would kindly supplement the boundaries and sense of purpose that our volunteer crew typically brings to club meetings. But, first, homework. With the added incentive of the impending basketball game, we finished our homework in record time yesterday. Before our club meeting was scheduled to start even. (Which, once again, indicates that our usual challenges are less connected to ability than they are to motivation.) And now that that’s over with…

Because The BBSC doesn’t have its own basketball and the community center was all out of them, some kids already on the court got to exercise their own Kindness and Teamwork superpowers and invite us to play with them. In fact, it wasn’t even a question—they wanted us in their game. (Challenge: How can we make The BBSC lab more like the basketball court in this respect? Maybe our young BBSes can help with this problem.) And once we started the game, the words “Teamwork” and “Leadership” frequently flew out of our mouths. “Sense of Adventure” even made several appearances. If we Big-Brained Superheroes spend a bit more time learning this game, the opportunities for articulating and exercising our superpowers appear almost limitless. Instead of exercising our superpowers while shooting hoops, we can be shooting hoops while exercising our superpowers. Opportunities, opportunities, opportunities.

Speaking of opportunities, when one of our young Big-Brained Superheroes spent her break time reading the gym’s Maximum Occupancy sign…opportunity!  First, we divided 456 (it’s a fairly large gym) by two and then by three. Next time, we’ll discuss it in terms of halves, thirds, and maybe even halves of halves or fourths.  Maybe then, we’ll discuss it relative to the number of people in the gym at the time.  And maybe after that even more opportunities will arise.

But we digress (such is one problem with learning)…Going back to Rule #3: If we here at The Big-Brained Superheroes Club had to create a slogan, it would never be “We make learning fun!”; it would be more along the lines of “We don’t make learning not fun!”.  (Which is, of course, why we’ll never make for good slogan-makers.)  Because, like Gambit, we see our very serious work for what it is—just another opportunity for some very serious play. And so it naturally follows that we see our very serious play as just another opportunity for some very serious work.