Saturday, February 28, 2015

Day 58: Great Resources for inspiring Tomorrow's Engineers

For the last several years, I've volunteered at University of Vermont Engineering Day during Engineering Week.  Unfortunately, UVM no longer host this one day event, and I have heard that many Vermont school's are hosting their own Engineering Day.  If you are one of these schools .. or if would like to be,  you should check the DiscoverE site  which is filled with resources that might help you host your own event during Engineers Week. 

On this site you will find lots of activities ranging from videos to hands on activities that you can search by using their filter to find the resource that best fits your need. 

The DiscoverE site is organized to be a place where volunteers and educators can get the resources they need to to talk to kids about engineering.  It includes self-guided tutorials, presentations, PDF's and more.  

One of my favorite resource that the folks at DiscoverE offer is poster that includes five powerful messages  to use when talking to girls about engineering.   To some it may seem that these message go without saying...but they don't.  These are exactly the messages that need to be highlighted to make sure your message connects with today's techsavvy girls.   Many of us have preconceptions about engineering that might discourage our girls from considering engineering as a career.  Pointing out the different type of opportunities for helping others in all types of fields and  to work as teams and to be creative and ask so many different types of questions can make a big different. 

What we say and how we say it matters. 

Along with the infographic, the site offers a series of videos that can help break down preconceptions about engineerings and bring out some of the lesser known parts of engineering that girls might be more apt to connect with. 

Check out the whole series of  Bring It Out videos this week or any time you have the opportunity to talk to a girl about engineering opportunities. 

Friday, February 27, 2015

Day 57 Where the Girls Are? At VentureLab!

Here is another post in my Where the Girls Are series of posts.  Today's tour of VentureLab  was one of the highlights of our travels through San Antonio as part of our Living Learning Mobile Journey.   When I discovered VentureLab, one of the things that caught my attention right away was the 60% female participation statistic on the front page of their web site.

we're making a real difference

 724 students, 60% female participation,

Who are these people that are having such great results getting young women involved in high tech ventures?  I immediately started clicking around their website and discovered that not only are 60% of their student participants female,   but over 60% of their team are women -- SMART women!

And one of these women is their founder, Cristal Glangchai, PhD in BioMedical Engineering.   

Cristal is a scientist, professor,  entrepreneur , and mother of two girls who is passionate about teaching girls to become leaders in technology, innovation and entrepreneurship.

Spend two minutes with Cristal in this short video and you'll see for yourself  how the lack of women in her university program, lack of women CEOs, lack of women investors, all fueled Cristal's desire to get  more women involved in the innovation landscape.  And one of the ways she is doing that is through VentureLab  ~ an innovation academy that focuses on hands on learning and teaching youth about entrepreneurship.

But  it's not just Cristal's passion for raising the number of females who play a role in shaping the world around us that is driving the success you see at VentureLab;  it is the passion of a whole team and their belief in a shared vision. 

Click on the WHO ARE WE Link and listen to children, parents, community members, and other stakeholders join Cristal (cofounder)  and Director of Programs, Nick Honegger. passionately describe the shared vision of VentureLab.    As Dirk Elemdorf cofounder of Rackspace,  describes "this whole industry has been dominated by dudes who look exactly like me~ young white dudes."   VentureLab is filled with a team of supporters who are passionate in making changes in an industry that currently "cuts off women and people of color".  They understands that

"diversity of view gives us diversity of solution by keeping people not otherwise exposed to this stuff in the game we get a better shot of having them actually take these roles that we need to fill our future"

The shared mission of the team of VentureLab came through loud and clear as Program Director Nick Honegger, described what happens at Venture Lab during our tour of the space today.

Start YOUNG! 

VentureLab wants to start with kids as young as 5 years old!


Using our ESTEAM framework, we provide experiential learning in Entrepreneurship,Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics, teaching students the key mindsets of entrepreneurial thinking, design thinking, creativity, and we provide hands on instruction in technology.  [VentureLab Website]

Let's Utilize our FULL WORKFORCE!
Getting more women to participate in the STEM fields and take on entrepreneurial roles is not just about achieving gender equality; our entire country will benefit from this progress and development. To realize our full competitive and technological leadership as a nation, young women must be encouraged to achieve their full potential and receive more representation within ESTEAM-related fields. We want to ensure that our full workforce is being utilized, and that is why we strive to achieve gender parity within all of our programs.  [VentureLab Website]

Thank you, Hetali Lodaya and Nick Honegger  for taking time out of your day to show us around VentureLab today and fill us with inspiration that the world is filled with creative people doing amazing things. 

Cross posted on 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Day 56 Making with CODE using a Lilypad microprocessor

On Day 55 I described how I created my first flower for my coding garden by hacking a votive LED tea candle and adding to it a beautiful flower made from colored stockings.

Once you have created your  beautiful creation, the next step is to add it to a collaborative garden and learn just enough code to give the flower its own unique presence in our collaborative garden.  I'm working on the premise that 'CREATING" something beautiful will lead to a high motivation to make it come to life.  And since learning some basic coding give your contribution to our collaborative garden the life you want it to have,  maker will have a very personal reason and high motivation to learn to code.   

We all know that motivation is the key to learning, and I truly believe that this collaborative garden will provide girls with higher  motivation to learn to code than writing a program that says "HELLO WOLRD".   But enough philosophy -- let's get started with next steps to creating the garden.

In yesterday's post we hacked our flower, by removing the battery and switch from the votive candle and replacing the LED with a new LED with longer leads, making it more versatile. Today I took the remaining 5 votives in my six-pack and quickly hacked them all (removing the battery and switch and replacing the LED with one with longer traces).  

Now let's play with our new hacked votive candles and see how easy it is to control them with a a microprocessor and a little bit of coding knowledge.

The first step is set up an Arduino board so that it 'talks' to our computer.  I chose the LILYPAD  Arduino board  because it's inexpensive and once you learn some basic coding techniques, you can use it for all types of fun crafty projects.  Installing the drivers the first time  is the trickiest part to using this board, but Sparkfun provides some great directions on how to use a USB cable and FTDI (adapter) to connect the LilyPad to your computer, and set up the Arduino software  so it can talk to your Lilypad.

Once the drivers are installed correctly, you should not have to worry about them again, but you might need to double check that the Arduino settings are still configured for your LilyPad board.  (Check these AFTER the board is connected to your computer).

The next step is to use  alligator clips to connect the positive and negative lead  of one of your newly hacked votive candles.  I like to color code my negative and positive leads.  In this project I chose black and white alligator clips to connect the negative leads.

Take the alligator clip that is connected to the negative lead on your candle and connect it to the negative pin of your LILYPAD.

Then take the alligator clip that is connected to the positive lead on our candle and connect it to any PIN on your LILYPAD (except negative).  I chose PIN 5.

Let's load the sample code called BLINK.  We are going to change the code a bit  by changing PIN 13 in the sample code to PIN 5. (assuming your colored alligator clip is hooked up to Pin 5)

It should now look like this .

You'll want to click on the Verify button to make sure your code works.  This process compiles the code and checks it for syntax errors.  It's easy to accidentally delete a comma or make a syntax error when working with code. Verify is the first step to making sure you have all the "syntax" correct to that the microprocessor (LILYPAD) will understand our instructions.

If no 'orange' error messages appear at the bottom,  you're golden and can now hit the SEND button to send your code (instructions)  to the LILYPAD microprocessor.  You'll see some lights blink quickly on the microprocessor as the instructions are transferred from your computer to the LilyPad's microprocessor.   Then if all worked well your votive candle (the one connected  to your LILYPAD with alligator clips)  should start to blink.

Now blinking might not be all that exciting (YET).  But once you start to understand how code works, you'll be able to add other effects like blink and fade.   And once you can control one flower, you'll be able to apply your new coding skills to control a whole garden full of flowers.  Imagine what you'll be able to do then.

In the next post we'll take a closer look at the code so that we can start doing more than blink a flower.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Day 55: New Maker Project - Collaborative Coding Garden

I have been thinking about our next Girls Make IT Day and have been working on an idea that would have us CREATE a COLLABORATIVE CODING project.  At first I was thinking of a  3D map or a Village where we all make structures of buildings that have LED's inside the buildings.  This was inspired by +Leah Joly  Christmas village project and the 3DVermont project.

Then +Mara Siegel posted this  a link to  a Robot Garden from  MIT  aimed at making CODING more accessible.  That's exactly what I was thinking, but with a little less complexity. After all they are MIT!

So I combined all these ideas and in the next few days I'm going to blog about my journey into making my 'simpler'  version of creating an accessible Collaborative Coding Project.

Here we go..

I loved the garden idea and immediately started looking around for some fun ways to MAKE flowers that could have a programmable LED.

I was inspired by this video of creating Flowers from stockings and could easily see a way to work this into our idea for a Collaborative Garden.

I looked into two fabric stores, neither of which had fabric that was stretchable like Stockings, so Off to Walmart.  Finding colored stockings turned out to be harder than I thought,  but I eventually found some colorful somewhat sheer tights in the children's department.

I picked up different gauge craft wire and ended up using the 20 gauge wire.

With a little practice wrapping wire around an toilet paper roll, stretching fabric and securing the fabric by wrapping thread and tying knots, I soon had 10 petals ready to go.   

The next step was to assembling the petals around the flame of an LED powered tea candle that I found at Walmart (6 for $2.50)

So far so good... Now for the geeky part.  If you've ever done a toy hacking project, you know how much fun it can be to tear things apart.  When I took apart the tea candle votive, I discovered a 2032 battery,  and LED and a switch.   This was so perfect.  Not only did I have all the supplies I needed at less than 40 cents per flower,  I had a great opportunity to include 'hacking'  in my project and to also review the circuits and switch concepts we introduced in our last Girls Make IT DAy.

At this point the girls could change the LED to a different color and have a stand alone light.  
Or they could change the LED to one with longer leads to open up a whole array of options for using their new flowers in a project.  

Ah the possibilities... Come back tomorrow and see what I come up with. 

Monday, February 23, 2015

Day 54: Where the Girls Are? The Google Science Fair

One of my goals in these daily blog post is to shine the spotlight on areas that have had success getting girls involved in tech related ventures.  Earlier this year I wrote a series of posts called Where the Girls  calling attention to the the success that  Carnegie Mellon and Google Computer Science Camp have had in engaging women and girls in computer science.

When I saw the announcements for the Google Science Fair this year,  one of the first things I noticed was the balanced representation of boys and girls in the finalists.  Girls can definitely see themselves in the picture browsing through the finalists of the Google Science Fair over the past few years.

There are some amazing stories of girls using their understanding of science, math, and technology amongst the project.   Amongst them are Ciara, Sophie, and Emer (tenth graders from Kinsale Community School in Ireland) who used a variety of technology to collect and analyze data that resulted some fantastic recommendations for using natural bacteria to increasing crop output while reducing fertilizer use.   It's no wonder their project was selected as a Grand Prize winners in the 2014 Google Science Fair.

The Google Science Fair is a global online science and technology competition open to individuals and teams from ages 13 to 18.  Learn more about how you can participate in this year's Google Science Fair.  The submission deadline is May 12, 2015.  

And if you're looking for inspiration, just listen to Ciara, Sophie, and Emer how they used their research to combat world hunger.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Day 53: HERLOCK Holmes Science Sleuth

Even though I discovered this campaign a little too late to get some of our TechSavvy Girls involved in the Science Sleuth's campaign,  I loved the approach they took and adored the  Herlock Holmes video  and  thought you might too

And I just discovered a new young star (KEKE PALMER) who seems committed to using your fame to advance social change.

According to MTV's website,  Keke has been in actively involved with the Saving Our Daughters and other campaigns to stop abuse. 

I just signed up to be notified in case this social change campaign opens up again. 

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Day 52: Maker project goes viral - Turning old dolls into TREE CHANGE DOLLS

What happens when a Maker Project goes viral?  Sonya Singh is trying to figure that out.
Her  Tree Change Dolls Facebook page just reached over 100,000 - not something she was planning on

Her project doesn't use fancy 3D printers, electronics, or microprocessors, but is filled with innovative idea about making old things beautiful again.  Sonya finds old broken dolls and REMAKES them into new dolls by fixing broken body parts,  removing unrealistic makeup, painting beautiful new faces, and adding new outfits.

According to recent interviews and her blog, she is not interested in becoming a toy manufacturer.  She certainly was not looking to 'go viral'.

 But she does love to make beautiful things and she does have beautiful postcards that capture her work on ETSY which opened this week 

It seems that the postcards are a more realistic way for her to keep "making' and meet her goal of sharing the beauty of her 'tree change project' without switching gears to toy manufacturing.

What is amazing to me is the STRONG message that Sonya has given to toy manufacturers.  This is some pretty 'inexpensive" market research that toy manufacturers can take advantage of about what girls (and the adults in their lives) want.

So glad this maker project went viral.  It's a strong statement about so many things  from recycling,  to making,  to sexualization in toys,  to  the power of social media.

Way to Go Sonya!  Just added you to my favorites list on Twitter.

Loved your recent tweet.  Your project exemplifies the part of the Fixer's Manifesto  that says "Every time we spend money, we vote for the kinds of products we want to see succeed."    I think the success of your project definitely says that consumers want a choice of realistic (and beautiful) dolls.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Day 51: Meet Google ambassador, Maurita Ament

Today I had the opportunity to virtually meet  Maurita Ament, a techsavvy sophomore from Spelman College who is serving as a Google student Ambassador and helping to spread the news that GIRLS can and should code.
I was struck by Maria's description of desire to help others in her school and beyond.   Her personal experience has shown her that a variety of technology skills are key to success. 

 "I believe that if you know how to code, do graphic design, or effectively use a computer to gain knowledge, you can do anything your heart desires. "
The story that Maurita shared about she got involved with technology confirmed for me that many girls become engaged with technology's power to connect us.   She went from playing with NEOPETS,  connecting with other NeoPet owners through guilds, to MAKING her own guilds,  to  learning to code and learning other tech skills to  to MAKE her guild even better.   Now that is what I call a fantastic story of success of one of the many ways to get girls involved with technology.   

"I spent a lot of time on the computer playing games like Neopets when I lived there. On Neopets, users connected with each other through “Guilds”. After joining a few of them I realized I wanted to make my own. However, once I made them, no one would join. I started browsing through multiple guilds to see what theirs had that mine didn’t. This was how I discovered HTML/CSS, Adobe Photoshop, and Computer Science. After teaching myself how to code and do some graphic design I was able to get over 100+ members to join my Guild."
Read more about Maurita, on Google's student blog

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Day 50: Laser cutter Nail Art, anyone?

I think I just found a reason to let my nails grow again!

Check out this use of a laser cutter to create fantastic Nail Art described on Trammel Hudson's blog. 

The project was part of a fun maker class held at the New York Resistor, one of the oldest hackerspaces in the US.

Read  directions carefully  on Trammel Hudson's blog or in this Make Magazine article  before trying this at home.. NO FINGERS in the laser cutter please!

What pattern would you create?

Thank you to +paul wallich  for calling my attention to this!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Day 49 Mobile Maker Space in Hospitals

When I read this article about creating a mobile maker cart that makes the round in hospitals where kids spend a lot of time,  I immediately thought about how satisfying this would be.  

I have vivid memories of girls in pink stripes walking pushing carts around the hospital with books, pens,  note paper, puzzles, and games.   How cool would it be to add Little bits, squishy circuits,    arduino boards, and other maker stuff to those carts.

Considering the state of flow that comes when engaging in a maker project, I think this idea could really take off.  And what better group to make it happen than a group of tech savvy girls.  Just saying!

Listen / read  the whole story on NPR's story "Maker Space" Allows Kids to Innovate, Learn in the Hospital. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Day 48: Governors Institute is looking for you, TechSavvy Girls!

Are you a high school girl?
Are you passionate about technology?
Do you love math or science?
Do you like to tinker?

Then you absolutely MUST check out The Governors Institutes of Vermont this summer!

"The Governor’s Institutes of Vermont creates prestigious, fun, accelerated learning residencies on college campuses for highly-motivated Vermont teenagers. There are Governor’s Institutes focused on Arts, Engineering, Information Technology, Environmental Science and Technology, Mathematics, Asian Cultures, Current Issues and Youth Activism, and Entrepreneurship.  Any Vermont student can ask his/her school guidance counselor for referral to a Governor’s Institute for an unforgettable experience of extreme learning and extreme fun."    ~ GIV website

And if you are  a high school girl interested  in one of these Governor's Institutes

  • Environmental Science
  • Engineering
  • Information Technology
  • Mathematical Sciences Institutes 

 EPSCoR is offering additional incentive funding for high school girls  which will make it even cheaper for you to attend.

So what are you waiting for!  Look up this page to find who your school's contact person and get that application process started.  That March deadline is right around the corner.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Day 47 Rosies Girls Registration Goes Live Today

Rosie's Girls Registration Open's Today

NEW dates for 2015 in Northern Vermont!
Registration opens February 16!

Essex Junction ♦ June 22 – July 10 ♦ 9-4:30
Barre ♦ July 20 – Aug. 7 ♦ 9-4:30
We've all heard about Rosie the Riveter.. but have you heard about Rosie's Girls?   If not.. then you're in for a real treat when you learn about this amazing program that has been building confident girls for almost 15 years.   

If you know any girls entering grades 6 -8, you need to know about Rosie's girls  (a 3 week girl centered environment where girls get hands on experience with carpentry, welding, auto-repair, along with art, games, swimming and self defense. 

Check out the Vermont Works for Women website  for  current dates, locations, flyers, and everything you need to register. Registrations open today! 

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Day 46 The importance of the Early Days in creating Diversity

I was thinking a little more deeply about yesterday's post about engaging a diverse community of makers and how important "the early stages" of a new maker community can be towards setting the stage for attracting a diverse maker community.  Whether your diversity includes different genders, cultures, economic status,  it is certainly the different abilities and the different ways of thinking and relating with the world that will generate the most innovative solutions to complex problems now and in our future.  

So I thought today I'd share a small but  key bit of  learning that some of  us discovered in our work on increasing nontraditional gender participation in Career and Technical Education.  When setting up a new program in Career and Technical Education, it was very important to consider explicit strategies for engaging nontraditional gender participation in the initial stages of program development.  Whether we were talking about the Metal Fabrication courses or the Health Careers program, If a program started off with a mix of male and females,  then it had a much better chance of continuing to attract both males and females.    A new program (or maker space) will tend to attract visitors who are curious about the new program.  If visitors to the program see themselves in the picture, then word about your program will spread to more than 50% of the population. 

But left to its own devices, the biases or stereotypes around us may primarily lead one gender to the program or space.   Once that happens, it is harder to turn it around. 

This may seem to be common sense,  but the inclusion of explicit strategies to create a diverse community is sometimes an after thought that gets a back burner in the initial days of setting up a 'maker space'  or a "learning space".   There are always so many details to tend to.. but tend to this detail earlier and your return on investment will be much greater than if you come at it after  the program or space is launched. 

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Day 45 How Valentines Day can Engage a Diverse group of Makers

Valentines Day has always been a day to delve into making.  In my house, out came the construction paper and other craft materials and it was a great excuse to get creative (well maybe until about the time when my three  boys turned 10… when the Valentines day become more a needless gushy day in their eyes.  That was about the same time they started to shake away Mom’s  public displays of affection)    

But just about the same time our boys are starting to push away from the softer side of life (i.e. Valentines Day) many of our girls are starting to move away from the ‘techie’ side of life and some even starting to lose interest in math and science. 

Today’s blog post is not meant to offer deep analysis of why that is or how to fix it  or to revisit Reviving Ophelia .  It’s just meant to call attention to some of the fun ways to play with tech around a holiday that might engage our (males and females)  who enjoy some the softer parts of life,  like the romance or  whimsy around Valentines Day.    

Here are a couple cool ideas and resources that are filled with creative ideas for making to engage a diverse group of makers. The cool things is that many  of these fun ideas can be used all year round, so don’t just showcase them on Valentines day, make them part of your “inspiration and idea’ collection all year round. 

Ever wondered about the Internet of Things.. (IoT)  then how about creating  this IoT  way to tell a loved you you are thinking of them from Little Bits

or this  super cool Valentine Light from the DigitalMisery blog. 

Friday, February 13, 2015

Day 44 Margaret Knight Far more than Paper Bags!

For a woman  who holds between 27 and 87 patents (depending on who you ask) and whose been called the most 'famous 19th century inventor" I am somewhat puzzled that her claim to fame is her invention of the Paper Bag.  Prior to Margaret's approach to making paper bags, all bags looked more like large envelopes. 

Probably one of Margaret's most significant inventions in my opinion was a stop-motion device that could quickly shut down machinery to prevent  workers from being injured in the factory she was working at.  However, at age 12, she was too young to file a patent (and probably didn't have the money or the education).  

Margaret's fascination with machines continued throughout her life and her inventions ranged shoe manufacturing to a series of rotary engine designs for automobiles. 

But what impressed me about Margaret as much as her inventions was that she was one smart lady who was not about to let someone  else get credit for her hard work. 

Knight built a wooden model of the device, but needed a working iron model to apply for a patent. Charles Annan, who was in the machine shop where Knight's iron model was being built, stole her design and patented the device. Knight filed a successful patent interference lawsuit and was awarded the patent in 1871.[2]With a Massachusetts business man, Knight established the Eastern Paper Bag Co. and received royalties.

This victory was not small feat and  probably one of her greatest accomplishment in my opinion.  Margaret appeared to have lived a very creative life and certainly deserved to be inducted  inducted in the National Inventors Hall of Fame (2006) 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Day 43: Who is Sarah Mathers?

After being rendered speechless to discover that only 5.5% of patents belong to female inventors,  I realized that we need to feature some of these women.  So I've added this tasks to my commitment to blog about gender and technology.  So for the next few weeks I pledge to learn more about some of of the patents that my sister geeks hold. 

While a few of the earliest patents held by women were for inventions related to the areas where women were experts in such as cooking or fabrication of clothes),  this early parent caught my attention. 

Sarah P. Mather’s Submarine Telescope, 07/05/1864
From the Patent and Trademark Office series: Utility Patent Drawings, 1837 - 1911
I was able to learn a little more about this telescope fromWikipedia
A more advanced version, an underwater telescope was patented by Sarah Mather in 1845 and permitted sea-going vessels to survey the depths of the ocean.[3][4][5] It used a camphine lamp in a glass globe that was sunk in the water. The device allowed to examine the hull and other details from a person on the deck of a boat.[6] In 1864 Sarah Mather added an improvement to her previous invention to detect Southern underwater warships.[7][8]
But I was not able to learn anything more from Sarah from that source since she does not have an entry on Wikipedia.  

But now I know why she doesn't have a Wikipedia account.. there is VERY Little information about Sarah anywhere online.   I spend hours looking and found the same tiny tidbit.  

In 1845, Sarah Mather received a patent for the invention of a submarine telescope and lamp. This was a remarkable device that permitted sea-going vessels to survey the depths of the ocean.

Who is Sarah Mathers? Why do we know so little about a women whose name is on file with this significant invention? 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Day 42 Feb 11 .. Shocked that 5% of patent holders are female

When I heard that that February  11 was  National Inventor's Day  in the United States  started me thinking about women inventors.  We have all heard stories of inventions that we associate with men that were really invented by a women  or had a women as part of the team who whose contributions were not attributed.

Many of us would name Eli Whitney as the inventor of the cotton gin, but with a little digging you will find that Catherine Greene played a major role in this invention, yet the patent is in the name of Eli Whitney.

Image source:

Catherine Greene is said to have posed both the problem and the basic idea to Whitney. Furthermore, according to Matilda Gage, (, 1883), his first model, fitted with wooden teeth, did not do the work well, and Whitney was about to throw the work aside, when Mrs Greene proposed the substitution of wire to catch the cotton seeds.  Stories About Great Thinkers by Mary Bellis 
It is no surprise that there were few early inventors in a time when laws stipulated that women could not own property (including intellectual property like a patent)   Back in the 1700's any patent that was issued for an invention that was a women's invention would be in her father's or husband's name.

But really....s it has been more than 200 years since Mary Kies became the first American women to own a patent in her name (1809)  after developing a unique way of weaving straw and silk into hats.   Some attribute her with paving the way for other women.  You would assume that... but do a quick Google search and you will find that is not what happened.  

Hundreds of years later,   only 5.5% of all commercial patent holders in the US are female?

I don't have the answers.. I'm just sitting here in shock at the number..
I'm thinking this number (which has me speechless right now) is fodder for more blog post on the topic.

For for now.. on National Inventor's Day, I salute the  women in this country who own patents.  

And I'm off to

Why Don't Women Patent?
Jennifer HuntJean-Philippe GarantHannah HermanDavid J. Munroe

NBER Working Paper No. 17888
Issued in March 2012
NBER Program(s): LS PR

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Day 41 Tomorrow's Robot Engineers

Recently I shared a post about meeting one of my heroes  ~  Marina Umaschi Bers

In that post I did not mention her latest project KinderLab has really got my attention.

It is meant to give students a very kinesthetic way to understand the coding that is involved in building robotics in a way that feels really gender neutral with a low threshold and high ceiling.

I WANT ONE.. I want to get my hands on one.  I want to watch a group of Kindergarten code with one!  Why?  Because it feels like it goes beyond building and ventures into 'coding'  and computational thinking with very young learners in a way that feels developmentally appropriate.

I just found out that I will be presenting with STEAM teacher, Erica Bertucci  at Vermont's Kindergarten Conference.  This would be perfect place to have teachers give this new maker tool a try.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Day 40 Generator space featured on NPR

What a fun surprise to see the Generator featured on this VPR story today. 

John Kash did a fabulous job capturing the diverse population that leverage the tools and connections that they make as members of the Generator.   I loved the way he featured the both men and women makers and both the practical and the mystical products that are part of the landscape. 

I loved learning about Connie Perignat ~ Lisle and her use of the laser printer for cutting  earring designs from bicycle inner tubes.  How fun! 

Equally fun was his description of the custom scents being created by Aaron  Wisniewski for his Alice and the Magician business. 

Thank you John for capturing the Generator's spirit and portraying it as a place that both men and women are welcomed in. 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Day 39 Alan Alda's suggestion on Talking Science

Feb 8

I was so excited to see that Alan Alda was coming to Vermont and made plans to attend his lecture.  Unfortunately I had to reschedule my trip home and was disappointed that I would miss his talk. ;-(

Reading through coverage of his recent talk on WCAX-TV's  Science Sunday,  I really appreciated his advice about communicating SCIENCE to those not trained in science.

"Well that's the point. If you're talking to somebody or to an audience that you know is probably not trained in science, you have to bring them up to speed in some way so they understand what you're talking about. But one of the mistakes we often make is that we say too much. Sometimes we don't start early enough and sometimes we go on too long. And you can cram somebody's head so full of stuff that they can't really sort out what you just told them. So you have got to go step by step appropriate to the people you're talking to. Which is why it's so important to understand what's going on in their heads. Who are they, where are they in their understanding when they come in, and what can you take them to next."

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 I felt it spoke to my struggle to bridge the knowledge gap I have with science, which I feel is not so different from the gap that many female's have. I'm not saying that we should assume that all girls don't understand science.  There are plenty of young women who have a great understanding of science and plenty of young men who lack science understanding.   Alan's point is that it's important to understand what's going on in the heads of the people you are talking to.  "Who are they?  Where are they in their understanding when they come in, and what can you take them to next.?"

Perhaps its my experience (or should I say lack of experience) in that field that makes me tune into the question "How do not leave behind half of the population" as we move forward at the speed of innovation? 

This is part of what this blog is about... asking this question and reflecting on the question and thinking out loud. 

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Day 38 Extending the Day with Online Spaces

Our Girls Make IT Day included two ways to extend the day using online spaces space.  One public space using Blogger and one private space using Google Classroom.

These two methods provided the girls with a CHOICE of how they could  posting images of what they were creating/making during the event and after the event.  Using the Stream in a Google Classroom gave the girls a private place to share images and thought, while our post by email workflow  on the Girls Make IT Blog (hosted by Blogger) provided a quick easy public space to show the world their process and products.

About midday we shared a POST by email address with the girls and their advisor and showed them how to share pictures to the Girls Make IT Blog using our 'secret' post by email address.  (Here are instructions on how to set up a post by email address for blogger).  This gave them the opportunity to focus on making in the morning and provided an opportunity for us to talk about safety and choice when posting on line.

We gave them options for posting images of ARTIFACTS only  or of posting images of their making artifacts.  The choice was there.  We also asked them to be respectful of each others preferences when posting images that had others in them.  Even though we had the required media releases we felt it was important for them to be making thoughtful decisions about the images they wanted in our public space.


We also had a great discussion about the value of seeing women engaged in high tech.  Not only does it provide an opportunity for other girls to see themselves in the picture,  it sends a message to the community at large that girls are important stakeholders when planning for the future.

The girls enjoyed using this method  (posting by email) to share their experiences on the Girls Make IT Blog  We felt good that they were empowered with the choice of which images they wanted to post.  And of course it pleased us to see the images of making continue to appear on the Girls Make it blog as they continue to MAKE back in their schools.