‘Glee Meets Mean Girls': Can TV Contest Spur Girls into Science?

By Sarah D. Sparks — July 22, 2015 1 min read
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Guest post by Sarah D. Sparks

Now that “Glee” has made choral and band clubs hip, could a “MacGyver"-esque television show do the same for high school science clubs?

That idea is one of 12 finalists in “The Next MacGyver,” a crowd-sourcing contest sponsored by the National Academy of Engineering to create a television pilot to popularize science among young people, particularly girls.

According to the contest Web site, Jayde Lovell, a STEM communicator for the New York Hall of Science, proposed the finalist show “SEC (Science and Engineering Clubs),” which would be set in high school:

Emily, a beautiful but snotty teenager, must join the high school Science and Engineering Club to avoid getting expelled, after accidentally setting fire to the school gymnasium during a science fair. She helps the club achieve their dreams of one day coming in first at FIRST, the national science and technology competition for teens. It's Glee meets Mean Girls, with an educational element embedded in each episode."

I’m not so sure that playing into the popular-girl-versus-science-geek stereotype is the best way to make more girls enthusiastic about science, but it would be fun to see a female version of Angus MacGyver, the lushly mulleted 1980s action hero known for the ability to stop an acid leak with chocolate and jury-rig a defibrillator with candlesticks and a microphone cord.

Photo: Concept art by Michael Penick for “SECs,” a proposed television show set in high school that is a finalist in “The Next McGyver” contest. Source: Michael Penick/The Next McGyver

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.