The conversation with my 3rd graders in the Maker Lab started like this: "We've been experimenting with LittleBits for 2 weeks now. I want you to envision the creator of these. What kind of person do you imagine?"
Answers for both classes were similar:
- an older guy
- he's been around a long tme
- he's really smart
- he's serious
- he understands kids
- maybe a little bit of salt and pepper in his hair
- he's kind of distingished-looking
- he looks like he might teach in a college
- he might be like a scientist or inventor
- Well, he could be younger, like my brother. My brother is really good at stuff like this.
- It's probably be a guy... but it could be a girl too. Girls do these things too.
during a 2012 TED Talk:
The conversation with my students, both at the front end (and then the reflection end) was equally rich for both classes. While it was a clear indication that we were all surprised by their first-instinct comparison as related to our predictions versus reality, there ultimately was really no surprise here at all. Girls could do this stuff too Women most certainly could be inventors, scientists, technology leaders, circuitry masters, engineers, and LittleBit Creators. All 4/5 of those STEM/STEAM letters are represented: Science, Technology, Engineering, (Art), Mathematics!
I personally found it startling the default to the male-mental-avatar, here in 2017.
During my mid-March Spring Break, my family and I were meandering around DC's Smithsonian's American History museum. (There, they had a fabulous exhibit on Places of Invention.) In the gift shop, I found two dynamic books from the "Girls in Science" series on this very subject for young upper elementary/middle school students (perfectly timed for the age of girls who tend to step away from science and math):
- Technology: Cool Women Who Code (Girls in Science Series) by Andi Diehn
- Engineering: Cool Women Who Design (Girls in Science Series) by Vicki V. May
- Aviation: Cool Women Who Fly
- Marine Biology: Cool Women Who Dive
- Forensics: Cool Women Who Investigate
- Astronomy: Cool Women In Space
As educators, I think the timing is ripe to dive in and engage girls to the bounty that is ahead in the STEM & STEAM studies ahead!
People Climate March pic from http://www.risingupwithsonali.com/a-week-after-march-for-science-activists-gear-up-for-peoples-climate-march/; Video from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YguB-keZ4Tk ; LittleBits images from http://littlebits.cc/ and https://www.microsoftstore.com/store/msusa/en_US/pdp/littleBits-Base-Kit/productID.2019068500; book images from https://www.amazon.com/Technology-Cool-Women-Girls-Science/dp/1619303256 and https://www.amazon.com/Engineering-Women-Design-Girls-Science-ebook/dp/B01C6D0KN0/ref=dp_kinw_strp_1; Women in STEM pic from http://www.stemwomen.net/ scientist guy clip art from https://clipartfest.com/categories/view/90348ca664874182727cf90444154743a1f7883c/inventions-clipart.html