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What's with the name?

Allow us to explain.

she blinded me with science

Marvel and Natalie Portman Announce Mentoring Program for Girls Interested in STEM Fields


Marvel has announced the Ultimate Mentor Adventure, part mentor program, part contest, that gives American girls in grades 9-12 the resources to find and interview professional women in science, technology, engineering, and math, and then rewards them for doing it.

Natalie Portman has always been a consistent voice for greater screentime and opportunities behind the scenes for female characters and real women in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, so it doesn’t surprise me at all to learn that she’s the first face you see on the Ultimate Mentor Adventure’s explanatory video. Portman talks about her character Jane Foster, an astrophysicist, amid finished and behind the scenes clips of Jane in Thor: The Dark World, and, while the bombastic music of the trailers plays, she says, “the truth is, I really do love science. And the role gave me an amazing opportunity to explore science in all its possibilities.”

That’s what the contest appears set up to do. With the resources on the page, eligible girls (they must be at least fourteen, in grades 9-12, and live in the continental U.S.) can find a woman working in a STEM job that they find interesting in their area, and also get tips on how to interview and introduce themselves. In order to be eligible for the big prize, however, entrants must submit a unedited five minute video in which they talk about their love of science, their experience interviewing their mentor, and what steps they might take to embark on a STEM career.

That big prize? A trip to Los Angeles, California, to a screening of Thor: The Dark World at the El Capitan theater on opening day, a screening where the winning videos will run as part of a documentary short before the movie. It’s hard for me to express how cool of a contest this is. Not only is it taking one of the oft diminished characters in superhero film (the love interest) and emphasizing that her talents are useful and achievable in the real world, it’s also structured in such a way that even girls who don’t win are given resources to follow their interests, and motivation to find out a bit more about their career opportunities.

Four for you, Marvel Entertainment and Natalie Portman, and I do hope that documentary short makes it onto a DVD release!

(Thor: The Dark World – Ultimate Mentor Adventure via GeekMom.)

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  • http://bittersweetfountain.blogspot.com/ Bittersweet Fountain

    I want so badly to be a mentor for this, but I can’t find anything on the site that says how. And when I open the “Map of Mentors” it has nothing for New Mexico the home of Los Alamos, the Air Force Research Labs, and Sandia National Labs. That’s ridiculous!!!!

    I am emailing them now to try to fix this situation, because I would love to be involved. This is exactly the sort of thing I would have loved as a high school girl. (In fact I did try to contact a NASA engineer, but it involved a phone book and a month of phone tag with various NASA people.)

    Anyway, this is cool! I just hope they expand their mentor list to include more ladies in various fields and in various states.

  • Anonymous

    I wish my nieces were young enough to get involved, but this still sounds completely awesome.

    EDIT: Oh wait, GRADES 9-12! Youngest niece qualifies! Will have to tell her.

  • Anonymous

    That’s awesome! I remember back in the 80′s, Sandia had outreach programs at ABQ elementary schools, and they would do experiments with lasers, soil science, etc. It was awesome! I wish you luck – New Mexico is a great place for scientists, budding or otherwise. :)

  • J Ritchey

    I’m giving all credit to Portman, here, as I assume this is what it took to keep here on a film she had issues with for a number of reasons.

  • http://bittersweetfountain.blogspot.com/ Bittersweet Fountain

    Sandia and AFRL (Air Force Research Labs, which is the group I work for) both still do stuff with ABQ schools. You’re right Albuquerque is a great place to be if you want to be an engineer or scientist. That’s why I’m here. :)

    Hopefully I get a response back, but I had to use their “submit a question” form so we shall see.

  • hoopla

    I think it’s natural for Portman to be doing this, too, because she’s pretty big on science herself. I mean, two articles she co-authored have been published in scientific journals–including one she worked on while in high school, just like the girls this is aimed towards.

  • Anonymous

    I’d love to see a mentoring effort for junior high and high school science teachers, to teach them more interactive approaches, better demos, etc. Almost everyone I know who loves science had one incredible, fun, eye-opening science teacher at some point in their pre-college education. And the ones that didn’t? Hated science. I lucked out… but a lot of kids don’t. I had some serious duds too, and they couldn’t have made science less interesting if they’d spent the entire class period reading the periodic table.

  • Anonymous

    “Seeking the next Jane Foster” is going to seem a little weird if Jane Foster gets killed in the next Thor, in a sort of a “We’re going to need another Timmy” kind of way.

  • John Smith

    >”Pretty big on science”
    >Had research published while in high school
    And I thought I was pretty big on science.

  • TKS

    I really love Marvel for hosting this. They’re celebrating women in science, they’re giving girls resources to find mentors. This is awesome. Thank you, Marvel and Natalie Portman.

    Now if they’d only make a Captain Marvel movie…

  • KA

    Fabulous!

  • vertdragain

    Great idea and have shared with a bunch of parent and teacher friends BUT wish they had given it a longer time frame after reading the page with my daughter (I get it’s for the film’s opening etc) because the teens I know have NO TIME as high schoolers to do this in the next two weeks (especially here in NY where we’ve now got Common Core). Nor is there time for additional mentors to sign up (checked the list and there’s very few listed & majority are in major coast cities). Still, major kudos to Marvel but wish more time had been given to a really great idea.

  • Laura Truxillo

    Oh, well done, Marvel! They’ve been on the ball, lately. And especially Natalie Portman. She’s one incredible person.

  • http://www.justplainsomething.com JustPlainSomething

    *knocking hard on wood* I’ve been thinking lately that since they’re been setting her up to die in the commercial, they’re not actually going to do it. I’m honestly betting on Loki sacrificing himself before that happens, thus his attempt at redemption in his brother’s eyes.

  • Anonymous

    This is freakin’ awesome! I wanted to enter for the few seconds I realized it was for high school girls :p I am STOKED for the young woman who wins this!

  • Anonymous

    If any of you are or know a mentor in southern Louisiana can you please get in contact with me!? I have a passionate 15 year old cousin who wants to be an astronomer. She has been fueling this passion by going to camps and learning as much as she can. She is super smart and I would love her to be a part of this.

  • AshVeridian

    Actually putting money of Friga dying, tbh.

  • http://bittersweetfountain.blogspot.com/ Bittersweet Fountain

    They finally got back to me last night! So you should be seeing an email from them soon as well, if you haven’t already. :)

  • Anonymous

    Yeah, when I clicked on this link, that was my first reaction too. This smacks of “this was Portman’s condition for reprising the role”, and I am completely okay with Marvel having capitulated on it.