Nancy B. here, of Nancy B.’s Science Club™, with some fun ways to help your family celebrate STEM-tember. I hope you enjoy these hands-on experiments and activities and that your kids are inspired to seek out even more scientific adventures.
Please let me know what you’ve learned in the comments section below – I can’t wait to hear the results of your scientific explorations!
Egg-citing! Get kids egg-cited about science, and explore the concepts of molecules and air pressure with this amazing, at-home egg-speriment!
If you enjoyed these activities, you’ll love the Nancy B’s Science Club™! Check out my full line of scientific tools and activity journalsincluding my MoonScope™, Microscope, AquaScope™, Stir-It-Up Chemistry Lab, and more, today! Happy STEM-tember!
In researching women who have made significant contributions to the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering, and math, we found too many to fit in one blog! Below, enjoy part two of our STEM-inist series, highlighting five more historic and modern-day women we should all know about.
This famous female dinosaur hunter began her career in paleontology at age 11, when she recovered the bones of the first known Ichthyosaurus! Mary didn’t have much formal schooling, but she did manage to teach herself enough anatomy, geology, and scientific illustration to become one of the most renowned paleontologists of her time. If your tween digs dinosaurs, check out Mary Anning and the Sea Dragon, the story of Mary’s life and work, then chip away at one of our Dino Digs.
Mary Anning, photo courtesy of wordpress
Hedy Lamarr (1914-2000)
Bombs away! One of the world’s first movie stars, Heddy was more than an on-screen bombshell. She and a co-inventor developed a technology that allowed the Navy to control torpedoes from afar! Although the Navy declined to use her patented spread-spectrum technology, it made an only-in-the-movies comeback many years later. Lamarr’s technology was used in secure military communications for many years and is still used in modern day wireless technology like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
Hedy Lamarr, photo courtesy of MGM
Linda Cureton (1959-Present)
3, 2, 1… Blast off! From 2009 until 2013, Linda was the Chief Information Officer at NASA. She was in charge of all of the technology enabling NASA engineers to work… on earth and in space! In addition to providing leadership and advising some of the most brilliant scientific minds of our time, Linda, a fan of social media and prolific blogger, also launched the NASA CIO blog. Before NASA, Linda served as the Deputy Chief Information Officer at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms and the Deputy Assistant Director at the Office of Science and Technology, where her work helped to reduce violent crime, among other things.
Linda Cureton, photo courtesy of cio.gov
Ada Lovelace (1816-1852)
Although she died before the first computer came into existence, mathematician and writer Ada is considered to be the world’s first computer programmer. Working with Charles Babbage on his “Analytical Engine,” Ada furthered his numeric concept by suggesting that computers could be used for far more than just number-crunching—they could be used to compose music, work in words, or compute just about any process based on logical symbols.We honor her every year on 10/13—Ada Lovelace Day!
Ada Lovelace, photo courtesy of Science Photo Library
Olive Dennis (1885-1957)
Do you ride the rails? If so, you can thank Olive for keeping you comfortable! A civil engineer with an undergraduate degree from Cornell (the second woman to achieve this degree) and master’s degrees in math and astronomy from Columbia University, Olive eventually became the engineer of service for B&O Railroad. There, she designed creature comforts including passenger-controlled windows, air conditioning in the train cars, dimmed lighting, reclining seats, and other features that still allow train passengers to travel in style today.
Olive Dennis, photo courtesy of Goucher College
Do you have a favorite STEM-inist? Share her name in the comments below!
From historic accomplishments to modern-day marvels, women have made some of the most monumental contributions to the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Check out six of our favorite “STEM-inists” below and be sure to share with your daughters to inspire them to make some meaningful discoveries of their own!
Jacqueline Jenkins-Nye (1921-2000)
You probably know Bill Nye, the Science Guy. But did you know that his mother was a STEM smarty in her own right? Before Bill was born, Jacqueline worked for the Navy as a World War II code-breaker, helping the Americans translate secret German messages. The translation of these encoded messages helped end the war—up to a year and a half early!—saving many allied lives. If your kiddo wants to try writing her own super-secret messages, check out Nancy B’s Science Club™ Black Light Illuminator.
Jacqueline Jenkins-Nye, photo courtesy of Vimeo
Julia Morgan (1872-1957)
If you’re going to build things, you may as well build big! The first woman to attend the famed Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris and the first female architect in California, Julia is best-known for building the 165-room Hearst Castle, complete with indoor and outdoor pools and a private zoo. Construction of this sprawling estate took 28 years! Julia also designed more than 700 other buildings AND helped to rebuild many historical buildings after the great San Francisco earthquake of 1906.
Julia Morgan, photo courtesy of Metropolis Magazine
Susan Kare (1954-present)
If you’re a Mac user, you know Susan’s work, even if you don’t know her name. Susan is responsible for many of the computer interfaces you use every day, including the trash can icon, the command icon, and the Happy Mac greeting. After working with Steve Jobs to develop Apple’s iconography and typography, she moved on to Microsoft to work on Windows 3.0, was one of the founding members of Glam Media (now Mode Media), and now manages her own design firm in San Francisco.
Caroline Herschel (1750-1848)
A self-proclaimed Cinderella, Caroline left her parents’ home in England, where she did all of the chores and housework, to do the same at her brother’s house– ugh! But when her brother began to study astronomy, so did Caroline, who went on to discover never-before-seen nebulae (clouds of gas and dust in outer space), star clusters, and comets. Before her death at the age of 97, Caroline became the first female scientist in England to be paid for her work. Her employer? None other than the King himself. If your daughter loves star gazing, too, the Nancy B’s Science Club MoonScope™ and Sky Gazers Activity Journal will help encourage her interest in astronomy.
Caroline Herschel, photo courtesy of Hawksmoor’s Bazaar
Joy Crisp, PhDA planetary geologist, Joy studies everything from lava flow and volcanic eruption clouds on Earth to actual rocks on Mars! Since 1987, Joy has worked for one of the largest space exploration agencies in the world – NASA. Currently a Principal Scientist and theDeputy Project Scientist for the Mars Science Laboratory at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab, Joy has participated in the successful landing of four different rovers on Mars.Since she can’t travel to Mars to study the geology there, Joy studies images and data sent by these “roving” vehicles. To learn more about Joy’s work, visit the Nancy B’s Science Club website.
Maryam Mirzakhani (1977–present)
Maryam is a female of many firsts. After discovering her aptitude for math in middle school, thenow-Stanford professor became the first female member of Iran’s Mathematical Olympiad team, the first Iranian team member to achieve a perfect score in that competition, and, much later, the first woman to win the Fields Medal (the most prestigious award in mathematics). Maryam’s work in hyperbolic geometry helps mathematicians understand the volume and symmetry of curved spaces. Challenge your mini-mathematician with Math Trekker, the portable math game that’s way more fun than flash cards.
If you’ve enjoyed learning about some of the STEM-inists who’ve made significant contributions in the fields of science, technology, math, and engineering, watch for part two of our STEM-inist series, coming soon!
If you’ve got school-aged children or follow educational news, you’ve probably heard about STEM. But what IS STEM, exactly? And why is it suddenly so important? Read on for answers to some of your most pressing STEM questions and ideas for simple STEM activities you can do at home with your kids this STEM-tember.
What IS STEM?
STEM is an American educational curriculum implemented in 2009 by President Obama, emphasizing Science, Technology, Math, and Engineering in public schools. Rather than teaching these subjects individually, STEM is a blended approach that integrates the subjects into single lessons in an attempt to teach real-world, scientific, problem solving and strategic thinking skills.
Why is STEM important?
America grew to be a global super power based, in part, on our superior science and engineering skills. The role STEM careers will play in our country’s continued success is growing exponentially. However, the number of students interested in and qualified to pursue these fields has diminished drastically over the years. By the year 2018, the U.S. will need 8.65 million workers trained in STEM fields*, but currently, according to the U.S. Department of Education, only 16% of American high school seniors are proficient in mathematics and interested in a STEM career. As a result, there is a push to increase the number of teachers trained in STEM instruction and to encourage students’ interest in pursuing STEM careers, in hopes of enabling America to continue to compete in the future global marketplace. This effort is so important to the U.S. government that the President’s 2015 Fiscal Year Budget Proposal included $170 million in new funding just to support the STEM initiative.
What can I do to reinforce STEM learning at home?
There are tons of fun ways you can support STEM learning at home, with FUN being the key word. Introducing the STEM subjects in playful, real-world ways increases the chance that your kids will want to continue to study them through school and beyond. Think scavenger hunt—not flash cards! Below are 10 ideas to get you started:
Block play—Building with blocks is a great way to introduce key STEM principles. How many bricks will you use? Why did the tower topple? How can you build a bridge? An arch?
Baking—Whipping up a sweet treat isn’t just together-time fun—it’s also an easy way to slip in a yummy lesson on measurement. How much is a tablespoon? A cup? What units do we use to measure liquids? Solids?
Kitchen chemistry—Kids love to measure, pour, mix, and add some more. Explore the basic principles of chemistry with a kit designed just for little ones, like the GeoSafari® Jr. Jungle Crew Lab Set including 10 hands-on activity cards.
Active math—Make math fun with movement! Take turns counting your steps or hula hoop spins and timing your races. Subtract to see who wins and by how much.
Nature collections—Take a walk and collect natural fall objects, like leaves, grass, nuts, and seeds. Discuss where they came from, why they look the way they do, and what purpose they serve. Google any unanswered questions when you get home.
Board games—Card games are a great way to hone strategic thinking skills. Koala Capers is a fun strategy game for younger kids; Crowded Waters develops problem solving skills and teaches older kids to think a few steps ahead.
Coding games—Introduce the basic concepts of coding with fun on-line games designed just for kids. Websites like Code.org feature games with familiar characters like Anna and Elsa and tutorials starring Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Angry Birds, and Plants vs. Zombies to lure in older kids.
Upcycled art—Engineering meets art! Provide a pile of recycled materials and let your kids go crazy building upcycled structures. Be sure to include a variety of materials, from egg cartons and empty milk containers to paper scraps.
Jennifer Jens, Educational Insights’ eCommerce team member, chose the American Cancer Society Relay for Life, a cause close to her heart, to receive EI’s monthly charitable donations in August.
Relay for Life is the American Cancer Society’s signature fundraising event, occurring annually in communities around the world to celebrate those who have survived cancer, remember those we’ve lost, and fight back for a world with more birthdays. Participating teams take turns walking or running a track or path at local high schools, parks, and fairgrounds. Because cancer never sleeps, Relay for Life events last up to 24 hours, with at least one participant per team on the track at all times.
Funds raised at Relay for Life events fund cancer research; the Hope Lodge, a free and comfortable place for patients and their caregivers to during treatments; Look Good… Feel Better, a free service that teaches women battling cancer beauty techniques to help them improve their appearance and self-image during chemotherapy and radiation treatments; the Road to Recovery, a transportation program for patients; and Reach to Recovery, a support program for breast cancer survivors.
Having beat Hodgkins Lymphoma more 14 years ago, Jen participated in her first Relay for Life in 2005 – the year shelost her father to pancreatic cancer. Impressed with the organization and results of the event, Jen joined the team and has been a part of the event planning committee for the last nine years.