Bad Astronomy

Experimenting With Megan Amram

Apparently this is Megan Amram.

Photo by Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls, from the video

Being funny is hard. But Megan Amram is good at it.

She was a writer for Parks and Rec, and I could probably stop there because cripes, do you need anything else on your CV? But it’s important to note that the show straddled a fine line between satire and sweet, snarky and sincere, and did so masterfully.

Amram is continuing that tradition: She has a new Web series called “Experimenting With Megan Amram,” which just started up on Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls YouTube channel. The premier episode is up, and I really enjoyed it:

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I laughed a lot watching this; Amram skates perfectly on the line between parodying terrible and fatuous women’s talk shows and actually presenting good science info in a positive and funny way. And she does all this while also supporting women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math). That’s quite a balancing act.

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Not only that, but she also provides instructions on how to make the potato clock (which is a real thing, and a staple of middle school science classes).

She’ll have a female STEM professional as her guest every week,* which is terrific; women are underrepresented in almost all STEM fields, and I think just giving a higher profile to them will help. Getting more role models in front of young girls at the very least can’t hurt. Besides Amram herself, of course; while not technically a working scientist (though she wears a lab coat!) she loves science and math, and grew up in a science-oriented family. And she does have a degree from Harvard University, apparently, which is probably worth something.

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New episodes come out every Monday, and the only thing I don’t like about the series is that only six episodes are planned. Happily, Amram has a book out called Science … for Her!, which I have not read yet but I will because (full disclosure) she’s sending me a copy so I kinda have to. Honestly I’ve been meaning to read it anyway, because it looks really funny and has enough snark to power a small town.

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You also should follow Amram on Twitter, if only because of her avatar. And check out Poehler’s Smart Girls website, especially if you are or know a young woman who’s interested in STEM. And really, even if she isn’t interested. Maybe it’ll change her mind.

P.S. While I’m at it, this Kickstarter for a STEM video series/investigation kit designed specifically for girls looks very cool. It has about a day left and is already funded, so it’ll go for sure, but I imagine a lot of teachers out there might be interested in signing up. Hat tip to my pal Tara Theoharis.

*Hopefully one will be a cartographer so she can look for Miami, England. I won’t give away who the guests are, but hint hint.

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