TODAY   |  September 21, 2012

Brainiacs by day, cheerleaders at night  

“Science cheerleaders” are a rapidly growing group of women in the United States who perform during professional sporting events while also pursuing advanced degrees in science, engineering and medicine. TODAY’s Jenna Wolfe reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> the country known as science cheerleader. they perform during nba, nfl and other pro sports teams while also pursuing a career in the advanced sciences. here at the usa science and engineering festival in washington, d.c., wendy and a team of former and current pro cheerleaders are out of their lab coats and in their dancewear to promote, well, science . among this group, there's a clinical psychologist, a dentist and a phlebotomist. this co-captain is with the washington redskins cheerleader and she just got her degree in cellular molecular management.

>> sounds more difficult than it is.

>> reporter: several science cheerleaders dance for the washington wizards . suzan is an engineer at exxon mobile and devin is an i.t. specialist and lauren is a financial anly. what's the financial analyst ? better let her explain

>> i work on, you know, base platform programs and advanced concepting technology.

>> reporter: darlene, a former cheerleader for the 76ers, founded the group to get the general public rethinking the image of scientists.

>> we know from the national science foundation , an overwhelming majority drew the woman scientist as sad and lonely, and they are anything but sad and lonely looking female scientists, so i think that's part of the draw is just the surprise factor.

>> reporter: women make up almost half of the u.s. work force , but a whole less than a quarter of all science , technology and engineering and math jobs. that's why cheerleaders want to put the kibosh on the idea of nerdy, lonely female scientists.

>> it doesn't make me feel good that kids that young are buying into that stereotype because it's definitely not true.

>> reporter: when we caught up with these cheerleaders they were working on a record-breaking project, leading schools across the country in a cheer strong enough for the u.s. geological survey to measure.

>> give me a "t."

>> reporter: so it didn't quite measure on the richter scale did enroll almost 75 schools in a long-term government project to monitor earthquakes. while they all clearly have passion for science , they also have a little patience with me. give me one formula.

>> any of those.

>> reporter: what she said. i trust you. right now -- still don't know what she said. right now there's 200 former and current professional cheerleaders registered with the science cheerleaders site. to find out with some science research you don't need a degree to help out, head to exponentially smarter than i will.

>> big cheer for intelligence.

>> big-time degrees.

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