Berkeley elementary, middle school students set record for most Einstein look-alikes

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Karin Goh/Staff

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More than 300 students, parents and faculty gravitated to the Black Pine Circle School on Thursday to break the Guinness World Record for the most people dressed up as Albert Einstein in the same place, a relatively difficult task.

Faculty, parents and K-8 students who chose to don the white wig, mustache, tie and coat required to be considered a regulation Einstein were counted by impartial Berkeley residents, officiated by Guinness as stewards and witnesses. The final number submitted was 319, eclipsing the minimum 250 that Guinness required to break the record.

The event was the culmination of an annual science festival at Black Pine Circle School, or BPC, called Science Week, according to a press release issued by the school. Science Week gave BPC students the chance to learn with local tech-industry professionals from companies such as SunPower and Pixar in subjects such as the science of movie-making, robotics and solar energy.

According to Anne Monk, a science specialist at BPC and a UC Berkeley alumna, students dressed as Einstein because the record for the most people dressed as Socrates — whose questioning method is a tenet of education at BPC — was too high for the students to attempt to break. Einstein was just “off-the-wall” enough and just pertinent enough, she said.

“It’s a good way of showing BPC spirit because it’s what BPC is — a little crazy, a little weird,” said eighth-grade student Jane Yarnell.

But Yarnell added that she thought Science Week’s other activities do a better job of celebrating the science, technology, engineering and math fields.

The school held the event to celebrate Einstein’s contribution to math and science and shine a spotlight on the importance of science education, according to Head of School John Carlstroem. He said BPC, which promotes teaching styles based on inquiry-based learning, wants to take the first steps in making “all-star” science programs in K-8 schools the norm.

The event also served to publicize BPC’s plans for a new STEM learning space called Q Lab, a two-part structure where students can safely “experiment, blow things up and make mistakes,” Carlstroem said. One lab in the building would be used to let students explore engineering, and the other would be a “wet lab” for experiments involving water. Construction is scheduled to finish by next year.

UC Berkeley professor Lior Pachter, like several other campus professors, has children who attend BPC. He said he decided to participate in the event to show support for his two daughters, who, like most of the other children, were very excited to dress up as the famous physicist.

“STEM education is simply essential, not just (for) STEM people,” Pachter said. “We need everyone participating.”

Photos by Karin Goh/Staff

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Contact Kate Wolffe at [email protected].