December 09, 2011

Calling Winnie Cooper

For those of you who don't know, I work for an educational nonprofit as an editor and writer. My typical workload consists of pieces on legislative news, issues of importance to educators, membership materials, etc. It's a great job, and I enjoy what I do, but it can be very cyclical. (New school year starts every August, new legislative session every other January, etc.) Every now and then, however, I'm afforded an opportunity to do something new and especially exciting.

My editor graciously passed just such a project on to me when we were planning the last issue of our quarterly magazine: An interview with Danica McKellar, best known for her role as Winnie Cooper on The Wonder Years, about her interest in math—she's written books on the subject for middle school girls—and a palindrome puzzle project she runs on Twitter.

I honestly don't remember watching much Wonder Years when I was growing up (possibly because I was too busy watching Star Trek: The Next Generation ... you can see why I am the way I am today!), but I certainly knew/know who Winnie Cooper is. Danica was lovely to speak with, and I appreciate her passion for math and for spreading the math love to young students. It's awesome when someone famous can be so down to earth and truly interested in helping others. (I am totally shy and not at all comfortable around celebrities—I am a nervous wreck in the Exhibit Hall at Comic Con—but she put me almost totally at ease.)

The article is below, in case you're interested in reading it. (Click to embiggen.)


  1. i read about her books in a parenting magazine at my ob/gyns office last year. and while i still hate math to some degree, i realized that it's because i was brought up to think i couldn't be good at it. my father (who is still pissed that i'm not good at multiplication tables) would tell me i must not be able to get it cause i was a girl. to a 4th grader it was devastating. i hope more parents find these books and encourage their girls (and boys) in math and science.

  2. I agree. While I was never expressly told I couldn't do it because I was a girl, I definitely saw the stereotypes (especially in my Mechanical Engineering classes my first year of college). I'm glad that there are women like us (and Danica) who realize that we need to change these views. <3

  3. Great article, Mandy!

    My daughter (who is in 6th grade) is very VERY good at Math, but even today, fights the stereotype! It drives me crazy! It's so subtle, but it's there. I can't wait to show her your article, Mandy! And I may get her one of Danica's books!

  4. Good for her! And thank you. I'd definitely recommend Danica's books, even for people who aren't struggling. They're fun! :)

  5. Congrats on this feature and interview! How lucky for you to have interviewed her!

  6. Totally! It was super neat. :)