If you’re old enough to remember the eighties and the nineties, then you probably remember watching movies and TV shows where a kid in glasses was bullied and laughed at by their peers. Real life wasn’t that different to the movies either, and chances are, either you knew a nerd who was bullied for being bookish, or you were one!

Things have changed. A lot.

The benefit of raising a generation of kids through STEM activities for middle school who are into video games and technology is that there’s a good chance your child’s heroes include at least one so called geek. Here are just a few of the people who turned the world’s perceptions of smart people upside down, and made being intelligent as cool as being sporty.

Neil deGrasse Tyson

Not only is he the coolest astrophysicist we’ve seen in a while (sorry Brian May of Queen, but he guest starred in an Ice Age movie!), but Mr. Tyson is responsible for making complex ideas about the universe accessible to everyone.

Larry Page and Sergey Brin

No list of cool nerds would be complete without these two. In case you didn’t know, they’re the guys behind Google. Enough said.

Mark Zuckerberg

Proof that you don’t have to graduate from an Ivy League college to be a world changer, Zuck was barely out of his teens when he came up with Facebook. The rest, as they say, is history. Stay in school, kids, but remember that your ideas can take you anywhere. Even to the top of the Forbes lists!

Evan Spiegel

Think of Spiegel as Zuck 2.0. The founder of Snapchat (and billionaire) is only twenty-six, but he’s been a major figure in the world of tech for years. More proof that if you’re smart, and you have a great idea, you can change the world… and earn a fortune.

Steve Jobs

He may no longer be with us, but his products will live on, and he was certainly one of the people who changed the face of hardware, technology and communications for ever. There’s hardly a home in the developed world that doesn’t have at least one Apple product in it. Great Jobs!

Hermione Granger

Okay, she might not be a real person, but there’s no denying that there’s no way Harry could have done it all without his bookish bestie! Her spells, encyclopedic knowledge of magical history and killer research abilities was definitely a big part in the process of beating He Who Must Not Be Named. Proof not only that girls can be smart, but that smart is great!

Get YOUR Geek On

The truth is, these days, it is cool to be a geek or a nerd. Being good at science and math is finally getting the recognition it deserves, and some of the top earning jobs are reserved for programmers, scientists and engineers. The world has come full circle, and smart people are finally getting just as famous as rockers and movie stars.

Encourage your kids to excel in STEM activities for middle school by showing them how these masters of math and emperors of engineering aren’t just cool. They’re rich, famous and respected too!