June 19, 2013 (Arlington, VA) – Brig Pari and her 13-year-old son, Michael, are huge Washington Capitals fans.
Pari, a vice president with tenant representation firm Cresa Washington DC, is also a strong advocate of children’s education; her mom and dad instilled this in her.
So last fall, Pari decided to create an initiative to help get younger kids more interested in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects, and learning in general.
Her background – Pari is an avid golfer, her father was a thoracic surgeon, and she earned a bachelor’s degree, magna cum laude, in history and science from Harvard College, as well as a law degree from the University of Chicago Law School – led Pari to this thought: why not do her part to foster in children an appreciation that sports, which many kids enjoy playing and watching, have tangible applications in math and science?
That’s the genesis behind the inaugural Sports, Math and Scientific Hypothesis (SMASH) poster contest for kindergarteners through fifth graders at Arlington County Public Schools. Michael Pari, an honor-roll student who excels in math and science, among other subjects, came up with the name SMASH.
About 70 children submitted entries, drawing on an 8.5 x 11 inch sheet of paper any connection between the worlds of sports and math/science.
“We wanted to keep it simple,” says Brig Pari, who also serves as a substitute teacher in Arlington County Public Schools. “We received really great entries that touched a wide range of sports and science. It was a big success.”
Recently, Pari and SMASH’s other organizers held an awards ceremony at the Arlington Education Center – next door to the David M. Brown Planetarium, where Pari is on the advisory council – to honor the poster competition’s winners as well as other participants.
Pari says that she established SMASH, in part, to coincide with the planetarium’s grand reopening last year. “It’s a huge asset to our community,” she says. “The planetarium plays a critical role in STEM education.”
The poster contest featured two categories – for students in kindergarten through second grade, and also for third to fifth graders. Maria Alvarado of Key Elementary School and Bryce Nivet of Arlington Science Focus Elementary School received first-place awards.
Bill Readdy, a former NASA astronaut; Kellie Caruthers, an artist in Arlington; and Michael Kimsey, the executive director, president and a trustee of the Kimsey Foundation, served as SMASH’s judges.
Pari says of Readdy, “He could not have been more excited about this project.”
The awards ceremony drew, among others, U.S. Rep. Jim Moran (D-8th), D.C. United midfielder Kyle Porter, and Lou Bloomfield, a University of Virginia physics professor who has worked with the Washington Capitals on a series of videos, called Forces of Hockey, where the physics behind hockey is explored.
Bloomfield’s work with Pari’s favorite hockey team inspired her to create SMASH. “Forces of Hockey shows that science is both useful and fun,” she says.
Sponsors of the poster competition included the Arlington Community Foundation, the Arlington Lions Club, the Better Sports Club of Arlington, Friends of Arlington’s David M. Brown Planetarium, and ThinkFun.
Confident that SMASH will become an annual event, Pari is already having discussions with more potential community partners and sponsors.
“This is the start of a tradition,” she says. “It’s fulfilling to work on something where everyone says, ‘Hey, that’s a good idea.’ We want to continue growing this and keep making a difference in a positive direction.”
Cresa is an international corporate real estate advisory firm that exclusively represents tenants and specializes in the delivery of fully integrated real estate services, including: Transaction Management, Project Management, Strategic Planning, Workforce and Location Planning, Subleases and Dispositions, Portfolio/Lease Administration, Capital Markets, Sustainability, Industrial/Supply Chain and Facilities Management. With more than 55 offices, Cresa is North America’s largest tenant representation firm. Through its partnership with Savills, one of the world’s largest commercial real estate services firms, Cresa covers more than 255 locations in 40 countries. Cresa Washington DC exclusively serves tenants through its offices in Bethesda, the District of Columbia and McLean. For more information, visit www.cresa.com.
Neil Adler of D*MNGOOD®