With each passing year packed with another two or three new comic-book movies, I’m sure there are some folks out there suffering serious superhero fatigue. But while you may or may not be eagerly awaiting the next adventure from the cinematic House of Ideas, here’s one reason to be thankful for all that on-screen success: Marvel is launching a new contest/mentorship program designed to encourage young girls to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and math.
Marvel’s also bringing some star power to the plate for their Ultimate Mentor Adventure. Natalie Portman, who will appear next month in Thor: The Dark World, is partnering with Marvel to help find “the next Jane Foster.” That is of course the name of Portman’s Thor character, a scientist whose research led her straight into the path of Thor and his Asgardian cohorts in 2011’s original Thor film. Portman greets visitors to the site and explains the gist of the program (in a video which is, annoyingly, not embeddable).
Aimed at female students aged 14 and up, in grades 9 – 12, the Ultimate Mentor Adventure will allow the girls to meet successful woman working in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and math), “all while conducting interviews, participating in experiments and interactive events, and getting the opportunity to go behind-the-scenes where the general public is not normally invited — all while having this adventure filmed.” This seems like a great opportunity to get girls interested in STEM fields even more passionate about that path, and maybe even entice others who hadn’t considered such a career option.
The finalists will even get a tiny bit of fame out of it! The winners will get flown out to L.A. for an opening-day screening of The Dark World at the El Capitan Theatre, and a documentary honoring the finalists will play before the movie. It seems pretty likely that the documentary will make its way onto the Dark World’s eventual Blu-ray/DVD release as well.
But the cool thing is that there are exciting opportunities here even if you aren’t one of the final winners. The site provides resources to help eligible girls track down and contact women working in STEM fields right in their hometown, potentially providing a real, lasting mentor relationship or at least some valuable insights into what a STEM career might have to offer. Honestly, if that was the only thing Marvel’s program was doing, we’d still be directing a big high-five in their direction. The LA trip is just icing.
For those hoping to win the contest, you’ll need to submit a five-minute video where you introduce yourself, talk about who you contacted and interviewed, discuss what you would like to pursue in the STEM careers. You can read up on all the details right here.
It’s great to see Marvel partnering with Portman for a genuinely worthwhile project like this. God knows there are no shortage of horrible, horrible female role models for young girls these days — no, having a reality show should not be considered your career goal — so the more girls interested in science careers who can be put in touch with successful women in those fields, the better. And while we’re at it, Portman’s not a bad role model herself, Harvard grad that she is.
Thor: The Dark World opens in theaters on November 8th.