Top Ten Nerdy Valentine’s Day Gifts 2014

It’s another gifting holiday. This one’s a biggie. Valentine’s Day is about love. If you’re giving a gift on Valentine’s Day, it’s to someone you love. So you’ve got to be thinking,

“What does the nerd I love want more than anything else?”

The Nerdy Chicks are here to help!

Here are some suggestions to help you find a gift to maximize your love quotient…

1. The past, the present, and the future… Journal

past present future tense journal

How do I love thee? Let me write down the ways…If your nerdy Valentine is one to write to Dear Diary, this journal should make her day. (And grammar jokes! Who can resist a grammar joke?)

2. Chocolate Pie Chart

chocolate pie chart

Bonus points if you label each slice of the pie chart with something personal to your Valentine.

3. I ❤ U T Shirt

i heart u t shirt

The math on this is correct. I double checked.

4. Love Nerd Art 

if then else print

This one is classy enough to make you look…well, classy. Written in perfect BASIC+ syntax (it takes the right type of nerd to get that).

5. Rose Flowerpot 4-Port USB Hub

rose flowerpot usb hub

Anybody can send flowers. But flowers that can charge your iPod? Or transfer your photos? That’s real love.

6. We Go Together Like Teen Girls and Vampires Letterpress Card

we go together teen girls vampires

Whether your Valentine started on Team Jacob or Team Edward, once he reads this eloquent card, he’ll have to be Team You.

7. Tech Love Circuit Board Jewelry

circuit board jewelry heart

Nothing says Valentine’s Day like jewelry. Nothing says nerdy like circuit boards. The best of both worlds.

8. Chemical Structure of Love Mug

checmical structure of love mug

Warm up her morning coffee with the heat of your (nerdy) love.

9. Heart Audio Splitter

heart audio splitter

Listening to music can be romantic. Listening to music together can be very romantic. Listening to music together and not having to speak because she can’t hear you with those earbuds in — priceless.

10. Never Ending Pi Love Canvas Print

never ending pi love

Lucky for you, this is also available on cards, T-Shirts, hoodies, kids clothes, or stickers. Basically anyone you need to shop for.

http://www.pinterest.com/sudiptabq/top-nerdy-valentines-gifts-2014/

Top Ten Nerdy Gifts 2013

It’s the holiday season, time for gift-giving and gift-receiving. You might be wondering,

“What does the nerd in my life want more than anything else?”

Tough question. You can’t just get ANYTHING. You have to take this question as seriously as, well, as your nerdy loved one would.

Here are some suggestions to help you find the optimal solution…

1. Silently Correcting your Grammar T-Shirt

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This one basically screams NERDY! In a good way! (Just so you know, CafePress has an entire assortment of Silently Correcting Your Grammar merchandise!)

2. Hardcover Silhouette Earrings

book earrings

Beautiful. Nerdy. Perfect.

3. My Life in Graphs

life in graphs

This one allows the nerd in your life to collect data and carefully quantify her entire life. Who doesn’t want to do that?

4. Talk Nerdy To Me Tote

nerdy tote

This one needs no explanation.

5. Goggles Umbrella

umbrella

Smart and functional. Love.

6. Style is Elemental Shower Curtain

shower curtain

Why waste a minute when you can be learning about the universe?

7. The Hungry Scientist Handbook by Patrick Buckley

hungry scientist

The cover says “Edible Origami” and “Light Up Lollipops.” Need I say more?

8. Engineer’s Motto Shirts

engineer t shirt

If this feels completely true to you, you are definitely a nerd. If this sounds completely familiar to you, you definitely love a nerd.

9. Organic Microscope Swaddling Blanket

microscope blanket

For the newest nerd in your life, get her off to a great start by emphasizing the right things.

10. Ice Speed Chess Set

chess ice

Is there anything nerdier than chess? A great game for all ages to hone critical thinking skills, competitiveness, and strategy. And the ice angle guarantees speedy play!

Happy shopping, everybody!

Nerdy Chicks and Losing

Scantron-Bubble-TestI like to joke that I don’t like to play games that I can’t win. It’s a way to show my competitiveness, and also a way for me to brag a little bit about my abilities. But the truth is that I don’t like playing games I can’t win because I really cannot handle losing.

A lot of smart women feel the same way I do. And it turns out that our inability to face losing might be what is holding us back.

The data shows that in elementary school, girls get better grades than boys, with both performing equally well on standardized tests. But by the time they get to high school, boys open up a lead in standardized test scores – an average of 33 points higher than girls on the SAT – even though girls graduate high school with a higher average GPA.

After we move on from high school, things get worse. Girls – or, women, rather – really start to lose ground to men. In the US, women represent almost 60% of college students but later earn roughly 77 cents for every dollar earned by white men. Although 54% of advanced AP/Honors math students are girls, fewer than 25% of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) jobs are held by women. Even without citing hard statistics, we all know that when it comes to leadership, managerial, or executive positions, women lag behind men significantly.

As parents and educators of Nerdy Chicks, there are many issues that lead to these gaps in achievement that we cannot change in a day (or in a single blog post). But there is one thing that we can start to address that could quite possibly make a difference: the way we give our Nerdy Chicks feedback on their academic performance.

good gradesOne theory about why girls do better in younger grades has to do with the ability of girls to perform well at the social side of education. Girls learn self-control earlier, follow instructions better, and generally behave in more acceptable ways than boys. In other words, they are “good.” Probably, these things collectively help them learn better, and often, they get praised for their academic performance in a way that is linked to their “goodness.” When you tell your daughter that she is very smart or a great student, it can start to sound like being smart or being a good student is something innate, something she was born with, something that is as much a part of her as her hair color or her nose.

For the record, I’m guilty of doing just this. I have often told my daughters how smart they are in the same breath that I tell them how beautiful they are. Even though one is changeable and the other is inherent.

The feedback that we give boys is very different. Because boys are often less conscientious, they are encouraged to try harder and put in more effort. The result is that boys learn that trying hard or putting in effort is far more important that what grade you get. Over time, this might be what accounts for the ability of boys to succeed.

Studies have shown that when students face advanced material that doesn’t come easily, boys react to the difficulty by continuing to try hard and put in an effort. Girls, on the other hand, may view the difficulty as a sign of the failure of their brains to handle it. They’d rather not try something and fail at it, because that would just prove that they aren’t “good” or “smart.”

In other words, boys play games they can’t win because they believe that they can figure out how to win with enough effort. Girls stop playing when they can’t win. You know, like I do.

I’ve been this way for so long that, even though I recognize the logic here, I’m not sure I can change. I’m not sure I can find the confidence to try something I might not be good at, to publicly fail, to “set myself up” for potential embarrassment. But I think I’d like to teach my girls a different way. So from now on, I’m not going to praise my kids for being smart – I’m going to praise how hard they tried. I’m going to link their success to their exertion, and I’m going to make their effort, not the grade they get, the goal. Whenever possible, I’m going to make them play a game they can’t win. Because, hopefully, I’ll be able to convince them that not winning today doesn’t mean never winning – that every loss will bring them closer to winning one day.

On that day that they win, I will cheer. I will be proud of them. And, probably, I won’t ever play with them again. Because I really can’t handle losing.winking face

 

 

REMINDER

If you haven’t entered the BOY PROBLEM Giveaway, today is your last day! Click here to enter.

 

 

Raising Nerdy Chicklets (and GIVEAWAY Reminder!)

Most of the time, we devote this blog to Nerdy Chicks. But just for today, I wanted to focus not only on girls, but on kids (or Chicklets, as we like to call them!) in general.

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At Afton Elementary in Pennsylvania

Raising a Nerdy Chicklet is a challenge in many ways. We have to foster his or her intellectual curiosity and be ready with facts, figures, and other resources to help her learn. As parents or educators, we strive to be ready with the answers. But having the answers isn’t the most important part of supporting a Nerdy Chicklet — allowing her to ask questions is the vital thing. Even when we don’t have the answers, the questioning process teaches the Nerdy Chicklet to think. Remember, giving facts is often a linear thinking process. We take the facts down a logical path with very few side stops in order to keep the explanations simple. Asking questions, however, lets a child explore in a non-linear way. Some of the smartest people in the history of the world were non-linear thinkers. If you want to help the Nerdy Chicklets in your life reach their full intellectual potential, let them ask questions — and be honest if you don’t know the answers. When that happens, it’s just an opportunity for the Nerdy Chicklet to learn independently and teach you, or for you two to learn together. Instant bonding!

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At Central Elementary in Maryland

One of the truly awesome things I get to do as a children’s book author is to go around the country to talk to kids about writing and books. Recently, this has taken me to schools in New Jersey, Maryland and Pennsylvania, as well as the Knoxville Children’s Book Festival in Tennessee. I always get lots of questions from the kids and I’m often so impressed by the kinds of things they are curious about. Here are some of the questions I’ve gotten.

“How can you tell the difference between a good idea and a bad idea?”

I get this question a lot. I wish I knew the answer!

SAMSUNG CSC“Do chickens make every story better?”

Not every story, but certainly most.

“Does it ever feel better to write about something that hurts you?”

A lovely boy asked me that question privately after one of my school workshops. I’ll tell you the same thing I told him: yes, it does eventually feel better. Writing is wonderful therapy, especially because in fiction, we have power. In life, we get what we get and it is often unfair. In fiction, we get to give our characters the endings they deserve — which means the good characters get happy endings, and the ones we don’t like get humiliation and defeat.

“Did you really set a mouse on fire?”SAMSUNG CSC

I get that question everywhere, but it was especially funny at the Rumson Country Day School, where one of my presentations was invaded by an actual MOUSE!

(Oh, and, yes, I really did.)

P1030380“How do you relate to kids when you’re so old?”

This was a question to the panel at the Knoxville Children’s Book Festival, where I shared the stage with the wonderful Julie Danielson, Bob Shea, Jarrett Krosoczka, Marc Tyler Nobleman, and Debbie Diesen. Needless to say, the little girl who asked it stole all of our thunder.

REMINDER!

There is still time to enter the GIVEAWAY for a free VIRTUAL CLASSROOM VISIT! Check out the cover reveal for DUCK, DUCK, MOOSE! and enter to win!

DDM Cover

Kat Yeh: Mad Scribbles, Big Feet

297310_10150320631406460_1375238351_nA couple years ago, Kat Yeh and I were attending the same writer’s conference. I was in the middle of a conversation with a well-respected agent, when Kat walked by. Immediately, the person I was speaking to went silent and his eyes followed Kat as she walked away. When he finally remembered that he was supposed to be speaking to me, he turned back, shrugged, and said, “She’s very striking.” The funny thing is that this guy had no idea that, as striking as Kat is from across the room, she is so much more so in person. Kat has a warm and endearing personality that has you laughing and feeling like you’ve known her for years, even when you first meet. This explains why I’ve spilled so many secrets to her despite our relatively short friendship!

Magic-Brush-Yeh-Kat-9780802721792You're Lovable to MeKat is a graduate of Villanova University and she worked in sports marketing for many years before discovering she really is a wonderfully talented writer who needs to be putting books into the world for the rest of us to read. She is the author of the picture books YOU’RE LOVABLE TO ME (Random House Books for Young Readers) and THE MAGIC BRUSH A story of love, family and Chinese Characters (Walker Books for Young Readers) and the forthcoming novel, THE TRUTH ABOUT TWINKIE PIE (Little Brown BYR, coming 2014). She’s also the recipient of the 2012 SCBWI Sue Alexander Most Promising New Work Award.

Thank you, Kat, for joining us today on Nerdy Chicks Rule. Let’s get started! If you could give your middle school or high school self one piece of advice, what would it be?

I actually think I received the perfect piece of advice already at that age (though I was not really able to figure out how to use it till much later) A dear and wise-beyond-her -years friend gave me a little card with a tiny painting and the quote: “Being myself includes taking risks with myself, taking risks with my behavior so that I can see how it is I want to be” I think we were 13 or 14 at the time. She knew I was struggling and feeling stuck, so she made the card for me. I still have it.

And I wish I could honestly say I have other advice that I would give myself, but I kind of feel that all that stumbling and confusion was sort of necessary. Even the big plastic glasses and ill-advised outfit choice for my first 9th grade dance (brown cowl neck sweater and full-length a-line plaid skirt). I wouldn’t change any of it. But maybe I’d just go back and give myself a big hug.

If it makes you feel better, I never even went to my 9th grade dance (though had I gone, I’m sure my wardrobe choice would have been equally unfortunate). Let’s move on…You’re one of my favorite authors!

Funny, you’re one of mine 🙂

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Here are the Nerdy Chicks with Kat (and Joyce Wan) in Princeton (after that conference where Kat was declared “striking”)

My favorite things to read…Books that lush and literary and brave and unapologetic and a little bit strange and completely committed to the world they create: example anything by Franny Billingsley.

 How do you see the books that are being published today as helping to empower girls to be smart (or, as we like to call it, nerdy)?

I don’t think it is necessarily about what is being published today as much as it is about allowing a pretty free reign. Showing a lot of options, but then letting them make their own reading choices – and THEN being there to talk. Answer questions (or even better come up with more questions together!). Start discussions. Think of alternate endings. Be stumped. Be frustrated. Be in love. Then wonder and wonder and talk about why you both are feeling all these things. I love the George Carlin quote:  “Don’t just teach your children to read…Teach them to question what they read. Teach them to question everything.”

That is a terrific quote from a fairly smart (and nerdy!) man. But we’re called Nerdy Chicks Rule, so let’s re-focus on girls…Tell us about a fictitious nerdy chick you admire and why you admire her.

Is it too typical to say Jo March? I don’t think that I was ever as brave as she was as a teen, but I wanted to be. And of course, I always connected to her passion for reading and her utter desperate Need To Be a Writer – as well as her big feet and awkwardness and temper and fierce love and mad scribbling.

Your feet are not big! (Well, at least, not that big.) Moving on, though…What’s something you like to do that might be considered a little bit nerdy, but is actually really fun?

I love, love spending hours in used book stores or in the used book section of my local indy. Looking for old art books. Hidden overlooked early editions of favorites. I love finding books with quirky titles and wonderful content. It’s like a treasure hunt. I recently found a ratty copy of a book titled, LOVE & DROLLERY – A SELECTION OF AMATORY, MERRY AND SATIRICAL VERSE OF THE 17TH CENTURY for $7. Happiness.

That was totally going to be the title of my next book! I guess that’s why I should do more market research, especially in used book stores. You’ve convinced me to follow in your (normal-sized) footsteps! Now, what is one of your favorite achievements that you can credit to being a nerdy chick?

easy: without a doubt, it is only when being absolutely myself (and therefore, embracing the nerdy in me) that I have been able to Find & Be Found and Get & Be Gotten by like-minded souls who have become life friends.

527286_10151155108171460_496397820_nI love the way you describe that: Find & Be Found and Get & Be Gotten. Beautiful. Guess that’s why you’re an award-winning author, huh? 🙂

Now, for the fun part: if someone gave you $75 and you could only spend it on you, what would you do with it?

That’s hard. As a mom, I tend not to think about spending money on myself. I’d probably buy drinks and a load of appetizers somewhere yummy (and hopefully with music) where a friend and I could have long, leisurely talk-ish time together.

And, finally, can you tell us one thing you buy at the grocery store that you cannot live without?

For several months now it’s been baby arugula. I know – it’s not glamorous or decadent, but it makes me crazy. All dark and peppery and perfect.

Thank you again, Kat! If you want to find out more about the fabulous and fashionable Kat Yeh, visit her at katyeh.com (still under construction, but coming soon!) and follow her on Twitter: @yehface

Baseball and Bullies

800px-Baseball

Photo credit: Tage Olsin

I don’t like baseball.

I could give you a lot of explanations for that. The games are boring, with significant amounts of time passing with nothing happening at all. One hundred and sixty-two games is just too many for me to care about. The players are often un-athletic looking or even personally unappealing. But those explanations don’t really do justice to my disdain for baseball. That’s because, if I’m honest, none of those things are the reason I don’t like baseball.

The real reason has to do with a teacher and a bully.

Bullies have been on my mind lately. My oldest daughter has recently had to suffer at the hands of a bully. And, like me, her bully was a teacher. But her story is hers to tell — just as I haven’t wanted to talk about this for 20 years, she doesn’t want to talk about it, at least not now. So I will just tell you my story.

I can trace my dislike of baseball back to a single day. I don’t remember the exact date, but I know it was in the spring of 1993. I was a junior in high school, and I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. After all, high school wasn’t awful for me, but it wasn’t great either. But there was one truly awful part of high school: gym class.

Oh, goodness, how I hated gym class. But never more than on that spring day.

I remember we were doing the baseball unit in gym. I remember walking out of the gym, through the parking lot, to the closest baseball diamond with my class. I remember being split into two uneven teams with the defense manning their positions on the field and everyone else being up at bat. And I remember the teacher, everything about her — though I won’t name her here.

Now, when I was in high school, we were tracked, meaning the academic classes were leveled into advanced, college prep, etc. So, I spent most of the day with basically the same set of kids who were also in the advanced classes. Except for things like gym. There, you could see a clear divide between the “smart” (and likely not athletic) kids and the “normal” kids. That was good, actually — even though I was not particularly skilled at sports, there were enough kids like me that I didn’t stand out as a failure.

On this day, on the diamond, that divide was there, as usual. As I waited for my turn at bat, I knew I wouldn’t hit anything. But neither would a bunch of other people. So, while I remember still hoping class would end before I got to the plate, I wasn’t all that worried about it. It would be no more embarrassing than any other gym class deficiency.

The bell didn’t ring before my turn. So, I stood there and waited for the pitch. I swung — and missed. I swung again, and missed again. And then one more time. Three strikes, and I was out.

Except, not that day.

I remember trying to hand the bat off when my gym teacher said no. She said I needed to stay there until I hit the baseball. I remember smirks and snickers from my classmates.

High School Me!

High School Me!

I swung again. Strike four. Then five. Then six.

Now, that divide I told you about was apparent, but in a very different way. One one side were the kids who were openly grinning and joking at my expense, and on the other were the kids who were painfully looking away, sympathetic to my embarrassment but unwilling to draw attention to themselves. After all, better me than them, right?

Strike seven. Eight. Nine.

Then the bell rang, the one that signaled it was time to go back to the locker room to get changed. I remember how sweet that bell sounded.

Until the teacher said no one was going in — until I hit the ball. Now, the class wasn’t smirking. Now, they were mad. They were going to be late — because of me.

Strike ten. Strike eleven. Twelve. Thirteen. Fourteen.

Around the fifteenth pitch, I made a little contact with the ball. It bounced forward pathetically. I took a deep breath. Was the ordeal over?

But the teacher said it didn’t count. Strike fifteen. Then sixteen.

Finally, I hit the seventeenth pitch. Well, not really hit it — just a bit more contact than the last time, so the ball bounced a bit more forward. But the teacher nodded, and it was done. I don’t remember, though, the expressions on my classmates’ faces or their reaction. By that point, I was staring at the ground. I didn’t think I’d ever want to make eye contact with anyone ever again.

It took years for me to label that incident as what it was: bullying. At the time, it didn’t occur to me — nor to any of the people who witnessed it. If a math teacher had done something like that — made a kid stand in front of the class for several minutes and figure out how to do a problem beyond his ability — I think there would have been reports and complaints and disciplinary action. Even then, it wasn’t OK to pick on kids who weren’t as smart. But not a single person — including me — thought there was a problem with the gym teacher picking on a nerdy kid. After all, that’s all in good fun, right?

But it’s not. And it’s not OK. And people need to talk about it.

The vast majority of teachers are incredible people who sacrifice and work ridiculously hard to raise other people’s children. That’s a generosity that most of us will never match. Even though it is rare — or maybe because it is rare — it is a severe breach of trust for a teacher to act like my gym teacher did. In the workplace, it would harassment and jobs would be terminated. Between two students, it would be a clear case of bullying and there would be suspensions. But when it is a teacher and a student — where the power difference is so much greater than between peers — it is often overlooked. Especially when the victim is “nerdy.” Because we still live in a world where being smart is a put down for a kid, something to be slightly embarrassed about. High school athletes get pep rallies and star status; the kids who are academically at the tops of their classes get ignored (which might be better than getting teased).

As a society, we have been talking a lot about bullying. I’m glad we are. It’s hard enough to get through school that there’s no reason for anyone to have an additional layer of difficulty artificially created by a bully. We need to learn to stand up and say it’s not OK — no matter who the victim is. Or who the perpetrator is. And we need to talk about how bullying is born of inferiority — not of the victim but of the offender. Looking back, I realize that my gym teacher probably felt that a smart kid like me needed to learn that getting good grades wasn’t everything and to be taken down a notch. But why would she need to take me down if she didn’t feel inferior in the first place?

Me on my pro-nerdyness crusade

Me on my pro-nerdyness crusade

Like I said, it’s taken years for me to come to terms with what happened that spring day. And even coming to terms with it doesn’t make it feel better. The only good to come out of it is that I’m more vigilant about situations like this. Just as I would never let people around me say negative things about another person’s race, religion, or disabilities, I’m sensitive about what they say about another person’s abilities. I’m sure to tell kids whenever I am doing an author visit that of all the things that shouldn’t embarrass them about themselves, being smart is the least of it. And anyone who makes fun of their brains is…well, stupid. And not worth a second thought. This is one of the main crusades in my life.

And, in the meantime, I’m working on liking baseball.

The Education of the Nerdy Chick: A Chat with John Schumacher

This week, we are talking to Librarian-Blogger-Literacy-Advocate-Extraordinaire, John Schumacher. His Watch. Connect. Read. Blog (http://mrschureads.blogspot.com/) is one of the best sources on the internet for information about children’s books, authors, resources, and insight. As a librarian and teacher, we wanted his thoughts on The Education of the Nerdy Chick, especially when it comes to reading. Thank you, Mr. Schu, for talking to us today!

We asked Mr. Schu to finish some of our sentences — here’s what he had to say:

“The differences between girl readers and boy readers are not all that different in my school library. I encourage my students not to label a book as a “boy book” or a “girl book.” If you spent an afternoon in my school library, chances are you would witness me turn to a third grader and say, “Books do not have a gender. Babymouse, Bink and Gollie, Hound Dog True, Marty McGuire, Ivy + Bean, Keena Ford, Clementine,Squish, and Stink are for ALL readers. Read what you want to read, regardless of what a marketing team might have thought when deciding on a book’s final cover or its targeted gender.”  My students know I will never create book lists with the following titles:

  • 10 Books Every Boy Should Read
  • Top Picks for Boy Readers
  • Every Tween Girl Should Read These Books
  • Listen Up Girls! You Must Read These Books

I work tirelessly to match my students with the perfect books. I consider their interests, age, and personality. Gender is not a part of readers’ advisory.”

“Girls can be reluctant readers, too. To get girls to read, I ask these questions:

  •    What are some of your all-time favorite movies?
  •    What do you do for fun on a Saturday afternoon?
  •    What does the perfect day look and sound like?
  •    Have you ever been lost in a book?
  •    What’s the last GREAT book you read?

It all boils down to this: the more I know about her, the better chance I have of recommending a book that helps her realize how awesome and gratifying it is to be a reader. It’s a magical moment when a dormant reader bonds with a book.”

“It can be hard for younger girls to embrace their inner Nerdy Chick. But what is great about when that happens is she discovers a supportive reading community that wants to discuss books and celebrate authors and literacy.

The Nerdy Book Club (http://www.nerdybookclub.com) is the perfect example of a supportive and enthusiastic community.”

“Even Nerdy Chicks need guidance. To help her expand her reading interests, I would discuss a balanced reading diet and encourage her to try different genres and formats. If she’s only reading historical fiction, why not read a graphic novel every so often? If she’s only reading dystopian fiction, why not try nonfiction?

My booktalking sessions always include a nice balance of genres, formats, fiction, and nonfiction.”

“If I was a Nerdy Chick, I would wear stickers advertising my favorite books, tweet nonstop about MUST-READ titles, host book birthday parties, recommend picture books and middle-grade novels to strangers, and give away hundreds of books.  🙂 ”

Once again, a big thank you to Mr. Schu for joining us. Want to read more of his brilliant thoughts? Follow his blog, Watch. Connect. Read. And go throw a book birthday party today!