WTF Fun Fact 13197 – Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Credits

Did you know Steven Spielberg was a college dropout? Well, in any case, he returned to his college, Cal State – Long Beach, when he was in his 50s to earn his BA degree. But the story of Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic credits is less well-known.

A director drops out of college – and comes back

Speilberg has been given some honorary degrees over the years and spoke at a commencement or two. For example, he spoke at Harvard’s 2016 graduation ceremony. It was there he revealed his own college story.

He told students and their parent’s about his own graduation, just 14 years earlier.

Spielberg began college in his teens but was then offered his dream job at Universal Studios in his sophomore year. He told his parents that if his movie career failed, he would re-enroll.

But it didn’t happen quite like that. It did, however, take him 37 years to finally graduate.

He told the audience:

“…eventually, I returned for one big reason. Most people go to college for an education, and some go for their parents, but I went for my kids. I’m the father of seven, and I kept insisting on the importance of going to college, but I hadn’t walked the walk. So, in my fifties, I re-enrolled at Cal State — Long Beach, and I earned my degree.”

Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic credits

It’s probably a lot easier to master college and its demands when you’re wealthy and have nothing to lose. But that’s not an attempt to diminish his achievement (just a nod to college students out there still grinding away)!

Another thing that helped the Hollywood director? Spielberg told that Harvard grads that he was given three credits in paleontology for making Jurassic Park.

Now, if you’ve seen Jurassic Park, you know there’s some sketchy molecular biology in there, but we’re hoping they got the paleontology right!

Regardless, Spielberg finished up his degree in film production. And we’re guessing he had a pretty high GPA by the end – at least in his major!

Here are some other words of advice he had to offer:

“And the way you create a better future is by studying the past. Jurassic Park writer Michael Crichton, who graduated from both this college and this medical school, liked to quote a favorite professor of his who said that if you didn’t know history, you didn’t know anything. You were a leaf that didn’t know it was part of a tree. So history majors: Good choice, you’re in great shape…Not in the job market, but culturally.”

Hey, we know an awful lot of history majors working in museums, journalism, marketing, politics, and law! We even know some who work as consultants on movie sets, Spielberg!  WTF fun facts

Source: “Steven Spielberg to Grads: ‘Earn This'” — TIME

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WTF Fun Fact 12917 – The Science of Batman

A course called The Science of Batman was proposed at the University of Victoria in Canada back in 2012, and was offered for the first time a few years later in 2016.

The science of Batman

According to HuffPost (cited below) “the course will examine how the human body can be adapted and improved based on the metaphor of the caped crusader himself” and “Offered in “alternate years” the course would make up only part of a degree and is run by the School of Exercise Science, Physical and Health Education.”

EPHE 156 is described in the course catalog as such:

“The extreme range of adaptability of the human body
explored through the life of the Caped Crusader; examines
human potential using Batman as a metaphor for the
ultimate in human conditioning; evaluates the concepts of
adaptation to exercise and injury from the perspective of
science and exercise training; examines the multiple
sciences behind exercise adaptation, musculoskeletal injury
and concussion, and limitations of the human body and
mind.”

Frankly, it sounds pretty awesome. Just like Batman.

Why teach about superheroes?

It’s hard to get students interested in courses, so sometimes professors (or their administrators) resort to gimmicks. And while they might sound silly, there’s really nothing wrong with it if it helps students learn valuable concepts or skills. The Science of Batman wasn’t about taking away tuition dollars for something mindless, in fact, it was a course about how the human body could be improved.

In some ways, The Science of Batman was ahead of its time. People are only more and more interested in things like “biohacking” and adapting the human body to extreme conditions (like space). Physiology experts travel to high-altitude locations to study these sorts of things all the time. It may even help us improve our health and live longer. So if you have to lure in students with the promise of Batman, so what?

Parents, teachers, and, yes, even executives use references to things people are interested in all the time to explain tough concepts or motivate people.

 WTF fun facts

Source: “Science Of Batman: Canadian University Offers Physical Education Class In The Dark Knight” — HuffPost

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WTF Fun Fact 12420 – A Penny for Your Thoughts

Long before Kickstarter or GoFundMe were a thing – and even before the Internet – a student named Mike Hayes managed to crowdfund part of his college education. It was 1987, and Mike Hayes’ parents had already put his siblings through college and didn’t have much left to offer him. He had $2,500 in his savings account, but his tuition at the University of Illinois was $28,000.

Hayes would call his plan “the only idea I’ve ever had.” That idea involved asking 2.8 million people to give him just one penny to reach his $28,000 goal.

But how do you get the word out to so many people without the Internet? Well, the newspapers, of course!

Hayes got in touch with journalist Bob Green who wrote for the Chicago Tribune and whose articles were syndicated in nearly 200 newspapers worldwide. Interested to see what would happen, Green wrote the story, which was published September 6, 1987.

“I don’t really feel like I’m begging,” Hayes was quoted as saying in the piece. “I honestly believe … that no one will feel that it’s a hardship to send a penny to me.”

The article included a PO Box and instructions to “QUIT READING!” and “Go put the penny in the envelope.”

It seemed unlikely since sending a penny would actually cost people $.23 due to the cost of postage. And yet the idea did “go viral.” He received pennies, nickels, and even some larger donations from around the world.

In the end, Hayes received 2.9 million pennies along with 90,000 letters. It was enough to pay his college tuition bill. He was known on campus as “Penny Man.” – WTF Fun Facts

Source: “The Kid Who Crowdfunded His College Education — In 1987” — NPR News

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