Connect a Million Minds: Math with Danica McKellar
You may remember her as "Winnie" on the hit television series, The Wonder Years, but did you know actress Danica McKellar is also a math wiz? McKellar admits that at first she was scared to death of the subject, and has written several books aimed to get female students hooked on numbers. Shazia Kahn introduces us to her in our latest 'Connect a Million Minds' series.
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Let face it- with all those numbers, letters and strange symbols, math for some might look like ancient hieroglyphics. Still the complicatedly, simple subject has its fans, including one unlikely cheerleader-Danica McKellar, best known for her role as Winnie Cooper in the coming of age series, "The Wonder Years."
"I love that feeling of when you can't do a math problem and then suddenly the light flashes and its like -that's it -this is how you do it- eureka! It's just a great feeling," McKellar said.
Once "The Wonder Years" wrapped, McKellar pursed a mathematics degree at UCLA and went on to write three best selling math books geared towards middle school and high school female students: "math doesn't suck," "kiss my math" and her latest, "HotX Algebra Exposed." An active math education advocate for girls, we recently caught up with her at a "HerWorld" event. Sponsored by Devry University, the program is designed to encourage young female students to explore careers in math, science, technology and engineering.
McKellar's message to the girls was easy as 1 2 3.
"There are a lot of stereotypes out there that tell girls that math is only for guys math is only for nerds you have to be antisocial to be good at math or science and that's just not true
Start now thinking of yourself as good at math, you belong here - math is for you- you're not just an afterthought," McKellar said.
It's a message that hit home with many in the audience.
"I was terrified of math because I felt that it was something I wasn't able to achieve after Danica McKellar said that you're not born smart you have to work hard for it so after that it shows me that I want to work hard at math," Lauren Antole said.
"I don't take math right now because I took all my math courses but now that I think about it I could have done a lot better if I actually believe I can do it," said Nicole Sandoval.
Those who already love and excel in math had some advice.
"I want to become a doctor myself so I think they shouldn't stop whether, regardless if the obstacle is math or science, they should continue on to their career," Evelyn Quizhpi said.
And McKellar adds math is essential in nearly every career--in her case, as author and actor.
"As an actress, you don't want to get ripped off in your contracts. It's all about percents and reading the fine print - and I do all of that and trust me it helps," McKellar said.
So, think about those career aspirations, earnings potentials, and you'll find it just may pay to do the math.
For more information on other programs designed to inspire children through science, technology, engineering and math, go to connectamillionminds.com.