(From Alicia Ybarbo, TODAY Producer)
My job continues to teach me things I never knew before. As a producer, one moment I'm picking out belts and shoes for a fashion show and the next I'm writing up interviews with major politicians and war experts. What helps me get through the more challenging segments is my ability to "brush up" on the subjects that I really know little to nothing about. (Nothing a quick call to the research library for some current articles on the subject can't fix.)
In the end, I always manage to pull through the more difficult segments, not letting on that I had to take a crash-course in whatever the topic was. That is, until recently, when I got a big wake-up call reminding me how little I know about science... where no amount of articles from the research library (nada, zilch, zippo) were going to help.
I went to interview a group of high school students from Buffalo, NY, who were on their way to the National Science Bowl in Washington D.C. as the first ever all-girl team. The "Fabulous Five," more formally known as Buffalo Prep, are successful, well-rounded sophomores, juniors and seniors. This was their first time to the Science Bowl, which is a national challenge between 60-something high school teams from across the country, who compete in a Jeopardy-style science challenge.
Sure, these girls are each involved in things like theater, student council and sports, but their true talents lie in science: earth science, general science, physics, chemistry, math... basically all the subjects that I failed miserably at in high school. And just to prove how poorly I graded in science-related courses, I failed out of Trigonometry during the last semester of my senior year of high school. Not even David DeMarco, one of the cutest guys in my class, could tutor me out of a big, fat, failing "F," even though we spent months trying! And if a cute boy wasn't incentive enough to get my grade to improve, nothing was going to help. That said. I'm a Trigonometry dropout.
With my secret hidden from the girls of Buffalo Prep, I decided to have our national correspondent, Tiki Barber, quiz the girls with some sample science questions that I got from the Department of Energy, who organize the National Science Bowl every year. After reviewing the questions, it took every muscle in my body to keep my head from spinning around in circles. They were mind-boggling. I won't get into details, but when pi signs, chemistry equations and square roots all invade the same page, I start waving the white flag.
Which brings me back to the Buffalo Prep team. What these girls have accomplished is nothing short of amazing. Not only did they become the first all-girl team to make it to the National Science Bowl, but also they are helping to level the playing field in which men outnumber women in science-related careers. They made science sexy, fun and exciting by injecting a big dose of "girl power" into an otherwise male-dominated field. I wanted to join them on their journey. I wanted to run back to high school, rush into my Trig teacher's classroom and give it one more try, with extra tutoring from David DeMarco, of course. On second thought, maybe I'll leave the science to these girls.