Gas station without pumps

2010 October 11

Expanding Your Horizons

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 00:01
Tags: , , , ,

On Saturday 9 Oct 2010, UCSC had their 10th annual Expanding Your Horizons conference to interest high-school girls in math and science.  (I mentioned it briefly in a previous blog post.) This year they had Danielle Feinberg of Pixar Animation Studios as their keynote speaker: “To Infinity and Beyond! The Math and Science Behind Movie Making.” Most of the day, though was spent on hands-on workshops doing things like extracting chemicals from marine sponges, or doing the DNA manipulations needed for forensic identification of human DNA.  The Santa Cruz Sentinel published a decent article on the conference (written by Alia Wilson).

Although only about 200 girls are directly involved in an event like this, I think that hands-on workshops (whether one-day or all summer) are far more likely to produce future scientists and engineers than TV shows (like Nerd Girls) or  web sites (like Dot Divas).

I remember one time a number of engineering faculty discussing what outreach events had been most effective in getting them into engineering, and NSF high-school science and math programs came up as being really memorable. I’ve not heard much recently about NSF high-school outreach, are they still doing it?  I, myself, went to a weekly abstract-algebra program that lasted for a few months (that would have been around 1970).   I still have the copy of Polya’s How To Solve It that I got as part of that program, though the textbook on rings, fields, and ideals has long been gone and forgotten.

2010 September 28

Dot Divas

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 00:25
Tags: ,

A few weeks ago, I posted about the Nerd Girls TV show that is attempting to make engineering seem cool to teenage girls.  Now I’ve heard of another attempt to make computational sciences seem cool for the same audience: Dot Diva.  According to the web site

The Dot Diva / New Image for Computing (NIC) initiative is sponsored by WGBH, one of the oldest and most accomplished producers of public media, and the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), the world’s oldest and largest educational and scientific computing society.

Dot Diva’s mission is to create an exciting and positive image of computing for high school girls. Our nationwide survey revealed that not only do the majority of girls think of computing as “boring” and “hard,” but they believe it fails to deliver two crucial benefits: “working with others” and “making a difference in other people’s lives.” Our ultimate goal is to transform this negative perception.

While that sounds like a worthy pursuit, I couldn’t find any content on the Dot Diva website.  There was some fluff: “What is a Dot Diva?”, a very small resource list, some PR that looked like ads for vaporware, and a rather stupid video.  If this attracts intelligent women into computation science, I’ll be very, very surprised.  I think Nerd Girls is more likely to work, and I was not greatly excited by its chances.

%d bloggers like this: