The Milwaukee teacher behind this viral video says he’s inspired to put kids first Terrence Sims’ latest social media sensation, ‘Excellence First,’ is lit

When sixth-grade Milwaukee teacher Terrance Sims shot footage of his students spitting dope rhymes over Tee Grizzley’s “First Day Out,” he didn’t know the video would go viral. The song, titled “Excellence First,” is now a social media sensation and on his account alone has more than 81,000 views in less than one week.

“It started out by me just writing the verse, and when they came in for the first day of school, instead of saying good morning and greeting them, I just put the video on and then set the verse. They loved it,” Sims told The Undefeated.

Aryn Fears and Savana Patterson are stars in the full music video and students of Milwaukee Excellence School.

“At the end of one of my math classes we had some extra time, and it was their idea to go up one at a time and show how they could spit the rap,” Sims said. “When I heard the two ladies in the video spit it, I went, there’s no way you could not record this. That’s kind of how it got started.”

Sims first hit the scene earlier this year when students in a fourth-grade class at his former school participated in a photo shoot dressed as stars from the movie poster for Hidden Figures. Draped in clothing similar to those of Figures stars Janelle Monae, Taraji P. Henson and Octavia Spencer, the students represented children of color and attributed honors to black women in history. Monae tweeted the photo, which went viral.

“That was at my old school and was actually part of my chosen project for that school where we had to look at a problem at school and try to solve it,” Sims explained.

When he searched to find posters to hang up around the halls and classrooms of the schools, his problem was that he could not find any representations of people of color.

From left to right: Miah Bell-Olson, Morgan Coleman and Ambrielle Baker-Rogers.

“My idea was to re-create positive posters with my kids in it and post them on the streets,” Sims said.

Upon completion of the photo shoot, he added a picture in his personal group chat and his friends did not believe the photo would get much attention.

“I went ahead and posted it and they went crazy,” he said. “We actually did like 30 different posters, but that one went like crazy on the internet. It was cool because it got them down to the NAACP awards to meet all the stars, and then we got to go down to Houston and toured the NASA facility. It turned out to be a really great day for the kids.”

Sims has been teaching for four years and has a degree in zoology from the University of Wisconsin. He earned his master’s degree in education from Alverno College in Milwaukee. The 28-year-old said his teaching career started on the day his father was diagnosed with cancer. His main goal is to inspire children to reach their goals, and he has dedicated himself to “putting school first.”

“It’s what he [Sims’ father] put first and he quietly passed away in February, and that’s why if you look on my Instagram you’ll see a lot of my lyrics are to honor his legacy. Everything I do is to honor my father passing away.”

Sims said his father was a pastor in Milwaukee and “really pushed kids to get high grades. I wanted to make sure that continues to happen.”

Neil deGrasse Tyson to Kyrie Irving: “I’m glad you play basketball instead of serve as head of NASA” Astrophysicist is pop culture’s ultimate superfan

Celebrity astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson likes to talk. Loves it. When you ask the New York native and director of the Hayden Planetarium a question, his voice lights up. Whether it’s about science or popular culture, Tyson is eager to educate, often offering more than you even asked for.

The fourth season of National Geographic’s StarTalk, his hit late-night talk show (née podcast) that features the likes of Bill Clinton and Terry Crews, premieres Oct. 15. “I care deeply about what role pop culture plays in hearts, minds and souls,” said DeGrasse. StarTalk mixes science with comedy with interesting conversation for a show both entertaining and educational — but most importantly, accessible. “I can start where you are, what you bring to the table, and I just add to that,” he said. “I think that’s part of the successful recipe of StarTalk.”

What’s a bad habit that you have?

I’m always aware of bad habits, so I’ve probably gotten rid of it already. I have an unrealistic attraction to kettle chips. The crunchier chips, [fried] in peanut oil, no shortage of salt — is that a flaw? Is it a bad habit, or is it just a habit? The real question is, if anyone has a bad habit, why haven’t they done anything about it yet if they are self-aware it is bad? I used to twirl my hair when I was a kid, but then I stopped. I notice when other people are twirling their hair, it’s interesting. I empathize with them.

“Dwayne Johnson. I used to have a body that kind of resembled his body.”

Kyrie Irving once said that the world is flat, although he later admitted to (supposedly) trolling. What would you say to him about this?

We live in a free country, where you can think and feel what you want, provided it doesn’t violate someone else’s freedoms. I greatly value that. So to Kyrie Irving I would say, ‘I’m glad you play basketball instead of serve as head of NASA.’ It’s a reminder there are jobs for people who have no idea what science is or how and why it works. And in his case, basketball is serving him well. The problem comes about if you are not scientifically literate, hold nonscientific views and rise to power over legislation and laws that would then affect us all. That’s the recipe for social and cultural disaster.

What’s the last museum you visited? Do you find yourself going to museums often?

I very much enjoy museums. The last museum I went to that was not local in New York City … it was an art museum in Sydney, Australia. There was a whole section that had aboriginal art, not only of Australians but also some from the Maori tribes of New Zealand.

“I have an unrealistic attraction to kettle chips. The crunchier chips, fried in peanut oil, no shortage of salt — is that a flaw?”

What is your favorite social media spot?

Lately, I have to say Twitter because of the value I derive from it. I have these random thoughts every day, and Twitter is a means by which I share these thoughts with the public. And in an instant, I get to see people’s reactions. Were they offended? Did they laugh? Did they misinterpret it? Did they overinterpret it? So I get a neurosynaptic snapshot of how people react to thoughts that I have. And this deeply informs public talks that I give. It’s my way to get inside people’s heads without violating their space.

People go to your Twitter feed to learn, so it’s nice to hear that you enjoy learning from your followers.

It’s not like I’m Professor Neil on Twitter. I tweet about a lot of really random things. People say, ‘Why don’t you give us the latest news?’ I’m not a news source. If I don’t think about that news today, you ain’t getting a tweet about it. I don’t start the day saying, ‘What am I going to tweet today? Let me think something up.’ No, it’s random. … You just happen to be eavesdropping in my brain. Before the end of the month I’ll be engaging in my Instagram account. I’ve yet to post to it. I deeply value photographic arts. It’ll mostly be artsy things, more artsy than purely educational. Then I write my own little caption about it.

So no pictures of your dinner?

If the dinner evokes some cosmic thought, yes, you’ll get a picture of my dinner. Otherwise, no.

If you could be any athlete, dead or alive, who would you be?

I think about Jesse Owens often. I think about Jackie Robinson often. Simply because of how great they were at what they did, how honed they were in their performance and the fact that their existence meant more than their performance. In other words, the whole was greater than the sum of their parts: great athlete, at an important time, doing an important thing, having an influence on people in a positive direction.

Have you ever been starstruck?

I was a little bit starstruck when I interviewed Jeremy Irons. There are movies he’s been in where I just — how can you be this good in that role? How is that even possible? And just to shake his hand and interview him for StarTalk, that meant a lot to me. And here’s one you won’t expect. I’ve never met him, but I’d be delighted to. I’ve got him on my short list: Dwayne Johnson. I used to have a body that kind of resembled his body. He’s beefier in the last two years than he was about 10 years ago, when he was actually wrestling. He beefed up extra for the Fast and the Furious series, so not in that state, but in an earlier state, of Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. When I looked like that, no one was interviewing me in the newspapers. No one was asking to publish my books. So he’s a modern reminder of a lost chapter of my life.

When you were wrestling in high school, did you want to become a pro wrestler?

No. No, no, no. No! You want to talk about physics — physics in pro wrestling is what allows things to look like they hurt when they don’t. But it’s the laws of physics exploited to fool you, rather than exploited to win.

What sport do you most enjoy watching, from a purely physical standpoint?

I like many. And there is physics in all sports, so I don’t rank them in this way. In fact, StarTalk because of the success of our shows where we cover sports, we spun off an entire branch called Playing With Science. It’s all the ways science has touched sports. We talk about famous catches, famous hits. We do talk about concussions. We brought in a neuroscientist to talk about [concussions] from football. We talk about NASCAR and the technology involved with that. We talk about the physics of driving around a track. There’s a lot of fun physics in essentially everything, you know why? Because there’s physics in everything.

This conversation has been edited for clarity and length.

These women are representing for black female magic They are on the rise and shining bright in new positions and/or new honors

It’s completely true. Numbers don’t lie, even if they can stretch the truth. The data floating around in recent studies show that leadership roles for black women in large companies are pathetically low. Since Ursula Burns’ departure from her post as CEO of Xerox in late 2016, no black women have stepped in to head any Fortune 500 companies.

According to The Huffington Post, consulting firm McKinsey & Company and LeanIn.org, the nonprofit women’s leadership organization founded by Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg, revealed a study that shows that women of color (defined as black, Asian or Hispanic) “make up just 3 percent of executives in 132 North American companies surveyed … including JPMorgan Chase, Procter & Gamble, General Motors and Facebook.” Yet, these women make up 20 percent of the U.S. population.

But this is not going to be the place to pull out a “woe is me” card or bemoan the plight of women of color. Despite the numbers, there are some black women leading the way and continuing to soar in their careers.

Take a peek through the clouds as The Undefeated recognizes these amazing women for their achievements.


Zadie Smith

Novelist Zadie Smith

Brian Dowling/Getty Images

Zadie Smith will receive the Langston Hughes Medal from the City College of New York on Nov. 16 at the Langston Hughes Festival. The novelist, essayist and professor of creative writing at New York University is being honored for her body of work.

Rosalind Brewer

Rosalind Brewer

Paul Morigi/WireImage for Tommy Hilfiger

Starbucks has a new shining star. Rosalind Brewer is now the COO of Starbucks and remains on the company’s board of directors. Brewer is used to running things. She was formerly the president and CEO of Sam’s Club. “Starbucks is a culture-first company focused on performance and Roz is a world-class operator and executive who embodies the values of Starbucks,” Kevin Johnson, Starbucks’ president and CEO, said in a statement.

Police Chiefs of North Carolina

North Carolina is in the history books. For the first time in the state’s history, it has six black female police chiefs. Raleigh’s Cassandra Deck-Brown heads Raleigh, Durham has C.J. Davis, Morrisville has Patrice Andrews and Fayetteville has Gina Hawkins. Catrina Thompson is the chief of police in Winston-Salem, and Patricia Norris is the director and chief of police for Winston-Salem State University.

Natasha Trethewey

Natasha Trethewey

Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Natasha Trethewey, Board of Trustees Professor of English at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, has been selected to receive the Heinz Award in the Arts and Humanities. Teresa Heinz, the chair of the Heinz Family Foundation, described Trethewey’s writing as captivating, powerful and fearless. “We honor her not only for her body of work but for her contributions as a teacher and mentor dedicated to inspiring the next generation of writers,” Heinz said.

Rhiannon Giddens

Rhiannon Giddens

Jeff Hahne/Getty Images

North Carolina native Rhiannon Giddens is a triple threat in the world of music. She has a sultry voice that gives contemporary folk music a taste of the blues. Giddens is the lead singer, violinist and banjo player for Grammy-award winning band Carolina Chocolate Drops. The 39-year-old recently won the Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass, becoming the first woman and African-American to win the prize of $50,000.

Simone Askew

Cadet Simone Askew.

Cadet Simone Askew of Fairfax, Virginia, has extended her black woman magic by becoming the first African-American woman to serve as first captain of the Corps of Cadets, the top position in the chain of command at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

Katherine G. Johnson

NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson (second from left).

Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Katherine G. Johnson’s name keeps shining. A new computational facility at the NASA Langley Research Center has been named after the “human computer” for her work at NASA Langley during the seminal U.S. spaceflights in the 1960s. Johnson now 99 years old, is a phenomenal mathematician and one of the leading characters to find the light of recognition in the movie Hidden Figures. “I liked what I was doing, I liked work,” said Johnson.

Krystal Clark

Krystal Clark

Krystal Clark has been named the first black president of the 96-year-old Junior League of Nashville. The 34-year-old is the director of the Office of Student Leadership Development at Vanderbilt University.

Daily Dose: 8/28/17 Texas tries to battle Hurricane Harvey

Hey, gang, I have good news and bad news. First, the bad news: The Morning Roast is coming to an end. Football season is upon us, and programming is changing, alas. Good news: There’s one more show left. Check out this week.

All prayers go to Texas. In a storm the likes of which no one alive has ever seen before, Hurricane Harvey has basically destroyed large parts of the state with both rain and wind and the subsequent flooding. And it’s not getting any better anytime soon. They say that recovering from this will take years, and don’t forget: Quite a few people who survived Hurricane Katrina back in the day had permanently relocated to Houston. This is a nightmare all over again for them. The police chief’s advice? Hunker down, they’re trying. This is such a sad situation, overall.

Might be time to get that Amazon Prime account, if you’d been holding out. The official sale of Whole Foods to the megaretailer became official on Monday, and word is that prices will be dropping at the high-end grocer rather soon as a result. This means that Jeff Bezos owns one of the country’s most prominent media companies, as well as a massive online sales operation, besides a monster food chain. Dude is doing a lot. How this will affect any of those businesses overall, who knows? Here are the details.

For the first time in a long time, I didn’t watch the MTV Video Music Awards. Typically, it’s my favorite of all the award shows. This year, I just didn’t have it in me as a result of the fight on Saturday draining all my desire to watch long, live programming for the rest of the weekend. But Katy Perry was the host, and from what my Twitter feed says, there were a decent number of solid performances. It’ll likely air 23 more times in the next five days, but if you just want to catch up on what you missed, you can do that too.

By many accounts, Vontaze Burfict is a dirty player. He’s had that reputation for a while in Cincinnati, and now the league is suspending him for five games as a result of a hit he put on a Chiefs player this preseason. Look, I don’t know what his deal is or why he can’t seem to stay out of trouble regarding his on-the-field play, but this dude needs to get it together. The NFL allows a lot of reasonable leeway when it comes to the basic concept of knocking the crap out of people, and the fact that he can’t seem to get it right is troubling. He plans to appeal the decision.

Free Food

Coffee Break: Russell Wilson seems like a nice guy. He and Ciara make a lovely couple, and generally he is a pretty decently liked person. But whatever he had in mind for his outfit at the Mayweather-McGregor fight is beyond me. I mean, look at this outfit. Dude looks like Carlton from that episode of Fresh Prince when they go to Compton, California.

Snack Time: In the 21st season of the WNBA, not a single player has a sneaker line of her own. Seems like that’s a problem that needs to change.

Dessert: Shoutout to Katherine Johnson — you know, the NASA genius — who just celebrated her 99th birthday.

These solar eclipse memes stole the day, by far What’s a once-in-a-lifetime event without a good response from social media?

Social media hilarity ensued once again on Monday when many onlookers around the world paused to experience a once-in-a-lifetime moment. Millions of Americans gathered in crowds, with co-workers, friends or family with protective glasses (or nah) to marvel at the first solar eclipse in nearly a century.

As usual, social media had no chill and spared nothing and no one. The funniest memes took over the invigorating moment, marking the moon trolling the sun in an unforgettable event. Even NASA Moon has a verified Twitter account.

Join in and smile at some of the most creative posts of the day.

Instagram Photo

Allen Iverson suspended one game for missing a game and other news of the week The Week That Was July 31-Aug. 4

Monday 07.31.17

New York Jets safety Jamal Adams, drafted to a team that went 5-11 last season, told an audience “if I had a perfect place to die, I would die on the field.” Teammate Morris Claiborne, not to be outdone, said he too would “die out there on that football field.” Green Bay Packers tight end Martellus Bennett, on the other hand, “ain’t dying for this s—.” The Baltimore Ravens signed another quarterback who is not Colin Kaepernick. Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, trying so hard to encourage star forward LeBron James stay with the team, was approved to build a jail complex in Detroit. President Donald Trump tweeted “No WH chaos.” Six hours later, recently hired White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci, who is not dead, lost his job. Multiple White House officials, or “the best people,” were tricked into responding to emails from a British prankster. Twelve inmates broke out of an Alabama prison using peanut butter. University of Central Florida kicker Donald De La Haye was ruled ineligible by the NCAA for making YouTube videos.

Tuesday 08.01.17

Guests at a New York City hotel won’t stop having sex up against their room windows; “Guys are together, girls and girls are together. They don’t even pull the shades down,” one resident said. A congressional staffer instructed a group of interns to not leak a meeting with White House adviser Jared Kushner; it was immediately leaked. Hall of Fame basketball player Michael Jordan said eccentric helicopter dad LaVar Ball couldn’t “beat me if I was one-legged.” Ball, keeping his name in the news, said Patriots All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski “can’t hang with me back in my heyday.” “Marijuana moms” is a cute new name for mothers who like to smoke weed; meanwhile, the government still wants to arrest certain people for marijuana use. NASA is hiring a person to protect Earth from aliens. Former Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis said Kaepernick, who hasn’t publicly spoken in months, should not talk openly about his social activism if he wants another job. Recently retired NBA player Kobe Bryant is getting thick. Two planes designated to be the new Air Force 1 were originally scheduled to be sold to a Russian airline. Scaramucci, the former White House communications director, known for hits like “I want to f—ing kill all the leakers,” invested almost half a million into an anti-bullying musical. Trump called the White House “a real dump.”

Wednesday 08.02.17

NBA Hall of Famer and BIG3 player-coach Allen Iverson, who has played in just half of his team’s games, averaging 9.1 minutes and two points per game, has been suspended one game by the league for missing a recent game. The Ravens are interested in another quarterback not named Kaepernick. Former second overall NBA draft pick Darko Milicic punched a horse in the face. The NFL released a video defining acceptable (simulating sleep) and unacceptable (twerking, pelvic thrusts) celebrations for the upcoming season. California Highway Patrol officers responded to reports of a kangaroo on an interstate highway; it was a raccoon. A 10-year-old boy named Frank, who admires Trump’s “business background,” offered to mow the lawn of the White House … for free.

Thursday 08.03.17

Trump told Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto “I won New Hampshire because New Hampshire is a drug-infested den”; Trump lost New Hampshire. Dukes of Hazzard actor Tom Wopat was arrested for allegedly peeling the sunburned skin off the arm of a woman and putting his finger between the butt cheeks of another woman; in response to the allegations, Wopat responded “F— them all.” A third person was arrested in Kentucky for allegedly digging up the grave of one of the suspect’s grandmother in search of valuables; “He should have known better because he was there in the funeral and he knew she didn’t have much to start with,” a relative said.

In “boy, he about to do it” news, special counsel Robert Mueller impaneled a grand jury for his investigation into Russian interference in the last year’s presidential election. A New Jersey man, possibly an eggplant emoji kind of guy, was kicked out of a showing of The Emoji Movie for pleasuring himself in the back row of the theater. A London pub, aptly named the Cock Tavern, banned the use of profanity; a patron responded to the restriction: “That’s bulls—.” The Secret Service, charged with protecting Trump and his family, was evicted from Trump Tower in Manhattan. Gov. Jim Justice (D-West Virginia) will switch to the Republican Party; the state party’s Twitter account said Justice “would be the worst thing to happen to WV” before last year’s election and called him “low-energy” and “Sad!” an hour before news broke of the party change.

Friday 08.04.17

Former independent counsel Kenneth Starr, who unearthed the Monica Lewinsky affair while investigating former President Bill Clinton for something else, in response to the Russia investigation, said, “we don’t want investigators or prosecutors to go on a fishing expedition.” Former President Barack Obama was blamed by Attorney General Jeff Sessions for the “culture of leaking” currently ravaging the Trump administration. Los Angeles Clippers coach and president of basketball operations Doc Rivers, the architect of the Austin Rivers trade, was fired from and kept his job at the same time. Former welterweight champion Amir Khan, playing himself, accused his wife in a series of early morning tweets of cheating on him with heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua; Khan’s wife, Faryal Makhdoom Khan, responded by calling her husband a cheater, a 30-year-old baby, and accused him of sleeping with a prostitute in Dubai. Joshua responded to both set of tweets with a video snippet of Shaggy’s “It Wasn’t Me” music video and a message that “I like my women BBW [Big Beautiful Women].”

Thank you, Lonnie Johnson, for one of summer’s best toys — the Super Soaker NASA engineer’s invention changed summertime

Summer’s hot sun beams down through broken clouds. Your favorite radio station serves as the day’s soundtrack. Your favorite uncle announces that the meat that had been marinating overnight in his secret mixture is now tenderized and ready for grilling.

Kids are already in the pool, and others are filling water balloons in preparation for the family water fight later in the day. Your older cousin arrives with the toy he’s been waiting six months to use: his brand new Super Soaker.

New memories are created every summer. But one that many Americans share is unpacking one of the most sought-after summertime toys that had been sitting in the garage since they received it as a Christmas gift.

The Super Soaker, created in 1982 by former NASA engineer Lonnie G. Johnson, remains the quintessential weapon in water wars across the country, selling more than 250 million units and earning over $1 billion in sales since hitting store shelves in 1990.

As is the case with most toys, we remember the joy they brought us without considering the person who made it possible.

Before entering the United States Air Force, before becoming a senior systems engineer with NASA and long before creating one of the All-Time 100 Greatest Toys, according to Time magazine, Lonnie Johnson was a young man from Mobile, Alabama, with a strong curiosity about science and technology.

“I’ve always liked to tinker with things,” Johnson explained in a piece for BBC News Magazine. “It started with my dad. He gave me my first lesson in electricity, explaining that it takes two wires for electric current to flow: one for the electrons to go in, the other for them to come out. And he showed me how to repair irons and lamps and things like that.”

By the time Johnson reached Williamson High School, an all-black high school in Mobile, he had built a 3 1/2-foot, remote-controlled robot named Linex. In 1968, Linex took first place in a science competition hosted by the Junior Engineering Technical Society at the University of Alabama.

Johnson was happy about the win but admitted to being perplexed by the university’s lack of interest in the young man behind the project. Although the Jim Crow era had ended a few years before, the mentality still remained.

“I have never really understood why in this country so many people look down on black people,” Johnson wrote. “I can’t say it weighed on me at the time, though. I was just so excited to have my robot, to know that it worked and that I would have a chance to show it off.”

Undeterred, Johnson continued his education on a scholarship at Tuskegee University, a historically black institution in Tuskegee, Alabama. He earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in 1973 and a master’s degree in nuclear engineering two years later.

Johnson went on to enter the U.S. Air Force. Later, he took a position as senior systems engineer in NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, working on the Galileo mission. During his free time at NASA, Johnson would tinker with the things around him — just like he did when he was a child.

“I was working on a new heat pump that used water instead of Freon because Freon is bad for the environment,” Johnson told Forbes. “I was experimenting with nozzles I’d made that shot a stream of water across the bathroom, and I thought they’d make a good water gun. I was having trouble getting people to understand the hard science inventions I had, like a heat pump or the digital measuring instrument. I thought the toy was something anyone could look at and appreciate.”

Johnson didn’t know at the time that this invention would become the “No. 1 selling toy in the world.” The first water gun sold so well, Johnson said, that there was a request to expand the product line. Two weeks later, the Super Soaker 100 was crafted. There have been 19 variations of the gun in its 27-year existence.

Today, Johnson is the president and founder of Johnson Research and Development Co., a technology development company that led the way in technological innovations in the toy industry.

So, next time you pull out a fancy Super Soaker to torture your siblings, be sure to thank Johnson for enhancing the way we celebrate summer.

Daily Dose: 6/9/17 NASA selects black woman as part of new astronaut class

I’m in Bristol, Connecticut, on Friday to appear on Outside The Lines, so if you’re around a television at 1 p.m. EST, tune in to give your boy a look-see talking about the best stories of the week. I will not be wearing a hat this time, I promise.

In the classic film White Men Can’t Jump, there is much trash talk. And in one particular scene, a guy decides that “your mama’s an astronaut” is a serious insult. It’s so off the wall and ridiculous that his opponent takes mega offense and loses it. But let’s be clear, being an astronaut is awesome. And for Jessica Watkins, her childhood dream of becoming one just came true. A researcher at the California Institute of Technology, she was one of 12 people picked by NASA for its newest class. This story is so excellent that it makes me want to cry.

If you don’t know who Gwen Bunn is, you will soon. She’s a producer, an artist and a songwriter who came to fame when she linked up with Top Dawg Entertainment’s ScHoolboy Q for the song “Collard Greens.” But she chose to stay independent instead of signing with a big label because she wants to maintain her flexibility as an artist. Here’s a cool story about how she got there. But, while you’re here, make absolutely sure you check out SZA’s new album CTRL, because it’s incredible.

When it comes to being progressive, the NBA is as good as any league in the U.S. And not just in terms of what its players are saying when the cameras are on, but also in regard to what happens behind the scenes to keep their league diverse. Now a few teams are working with Jopwell, which places minority candidates in positions with major firms. And they don’t just work with the NBA. They’ve got agreements with the U.S. Tennis Association, and in general they keep these pipelines open. Half of the startup team is a former Yale guard.

Last night in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final, something foul happened. At one point, Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins and P.K. Subban of the Nashville Predators decided to renew their little rivalry in a game that was otherwise a blowout. Sid The Kid at one point was grinding Subban’s head into the ice as a way to tweak him. OK, whatever. But then NBC’s Mike Milbury gets on the camera saying that he deserved it, for God knows what reason. Oh, wait. Yeah, Milbury’s the reason that hockey will be forever stuck in the Stone Age.

Free Food

Coffee Break: It’s summertime now, so you’re going to be dealing with something that we all hate: bugs. Whether it’s keeping them off your body, out of your food or out of your house, they’re a problem. Some of us use the old magazine/newspaper method for the latter, but if you’re a humane person, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has something you can work with.

Snack Time: There are people actually paying money to walk around Brooklyn, New York, in tour groups as part of some “ghetto safari” experience, and these people are the worst. I’m so angry at just the concept, never mind execution.

Dessert: Sometimes, it’s rough with the fam. But we’re all gonna make it if we try. Happy weekend, kiddos.

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This Johns Hopkins grad is the modern-day Katherine Johnson 25-year-old engineer Ariel Bowers is forging her own path just like the NASA ‘hidden figure’

John Hopkins graduate Ariel Bowers spends her days testing software for the James Webb Space Telescope, a state-of-the-art NASA telescope that will be launched into space next year.

The Baltimore native has been peering into the night sky in search of stars and constellations since she was a little girl. At 25, she’s a modern-day Katherine Johnson, the NASA scientist portrayed in the award-winning movie Hidden Figures.

With summer on the horizon, Bowers has some great advice for students and their parents: Spend the summer engaged in learning, find a mentor or enroll in a summer camp in a field you’re interested in exploring.

Bowers is an integration and test engineer at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore. She is the lead engineer in testing the telescope’s data management subsystem.

“It is definitely the most powerful telescope, and it will be able to see the furthest back,” said Bowers. “We should be able to look back to the very first and early galaxies that were created after the Big Bang.”

Space exploration is “a dream come true,” said Bowers. “It’s literally what I wanted to do as a young girl. And to have worked on two of NASA’s flagship missions: I worked on the Hubble telescope for three years, and now to be on the team that is helping to test the software for James Webb.”

In her spare time, Bowers serves as a mentor to young students, particularly girls, encouraging them to consider careers in physics, astronomy and computer science. Exposure to such fields is critical if young women want to break the glass ceiling.

Bowers comes from a family of educators. She credits her grandfather with introducing her to the wonder of stars. “My grandfather worked with the city schools and was also a principal. We’d go out and look at the stars together. Astronomy was his No. 1 love.”

She attended Wellwood International Elementary School, a French immersion school in Baltimore County, and continued her education at Sudbrook Magnet Middle School in Pikesville, Maryland. Bowers transferred from Baltimore County Public Schools to attend Baltimore Polytechnic Institute to take part in the Ingenuity Project, which provides highly accelerated math and science courses to high-achieving students. As part of that program, Bowers did a Research Practicum, which pairs students with mentors who are scientists and engineers to complete a research project.

Rita Bowers said her daughter has always been an excellent, highly motivated student. But a social slight at an early age made her work even harder. Her best friend, a white child, had a birthday party and invited everyone in the class except for her. The experience, while heartbreaking, was a wake-up call.

“My mother said to [Ariel], ‘You can always beat those who think less of you. They will always respect you if you’re smart enough.’ That idea stuck with Ariel,” said Rita Bowers. “Her whole school career she knew she had to go in there and be the best that she could be.

Bowers loves working with younger students. She believes it’s never too early to teach kids about science and astronomy.

“Being able to make something tangible for younger students was really interesting,” she said of teaching her aunt’s pre-K pupils. “I always go back to career day at least yearly at my old middle school. I share what it’s like to work in the field of astronomy. When kids think science, they think lab coat and beakers. But a lot of scientists don’t do that kind of work. It’s kind of cool to show them another facet of what astronomy and engineering is.”

She urges students to seek out opportunities to attend camps and shadow professionals. Guidance counselors say this is a great way for students to figure out whether they will really enjoy a career they have their eye on.

She and her mentor, Max Mutchler, are now colleagues at the Space Telescope Science Institute. When he first met Bowers, Mutchler said, she was a poised and very mature 15-year-old. “She was working on projects with Nobel Prize winners, and she was unfazed by all of that. I was so impressed.”

At Johns Hopkins, Bowers majored in computer science and minored in French and space systems engineering. She was first exposed to the story of Katherine Johnson when she read the book Hidden Figures.

Bowers identifies with Johnson’s character in the movie of the same name. Every time she starts a new project, she has to prove herself to colleagues who wonder whether she’s up to the task. It’s a common problem for women working in male-dominated fields such as science and engineering. But Bowers quickly quells any doubts they have about her abilities.

Lisa Frattare, an astronomical image processor at the Chandra Observatory in Boston, worked with Bowers on the Hubble telescope and can relate to her experiences.

“That whole male stereotype, ‘Let the girls play with Barbies and let the boys play with Legos,’ well, Lego has found that they have a market with girls,” said Frattare. “We’ve had to take a couple of generations for us to learn that girls are very good at this. The possibilities are endless.”

Bowers is back at Johns Hopkins working on a master’s degree in space systems engineering that she expects to finish in December. The sky is truly the limit.