Science

  • Add It Up! Top 30 Math Toys for Mighty Girls

    A Mighty Girl's top picks of math toys and games for curious Mighty Girls from toddlers to teens.

    building-toys-blog-websiteMath is all around us! From making a purchase to doubling a recipe to estimating how much longer a trip will take, we use math every day. Yet for many people there's a pervasive myth that you're either "good at math" or "bad at math" — that it's a talent you're born with, not a skill you can grow and develop with practice. And this misperception often has a significant effect on girls, who are prone to believing that their math ability is innate and that girls are less gifted at math than boys.

    Fortunately, the parents and educators of Mighty Girls know that girls can — and do! — excel at math, and that it's a skill that can improve with practice. To help your own Mighty Girl excel, there's no better way than by providing her with toys and games that build math skills while bringing the play back into numbers. With that in mind, in this blog post, we've showcased 30 of our favorite math-themed toys and games! Whether the Mighty Girl in your life is a toddler or a teen, there's something here to get everyone 'adding it up'! Continue reading

  • Mighty Careers: I Want To Be An Engineer!

    By Katherine Handcock, A Mighty Girl Communications Specialist

    516ru-34lpl_1_[1]In our Mighty Careers blog series, we celebrate the careers that Mighty Girls around the world are dreaming of pursuing one day! In each blog, we provide a career role model, as well as recommendations for books, clothing, and toys to support and encourage her aspirations. Whether she’s three or thirteen, you’ll find options here to teach her more about her dream job — and help her start preparing to live it!

    In this post, we’ll talk about the Mighty Girls who dream of designing the future as engineers. From the first day your infant Mighty Girl tried to figure out how to make her stack of blocks taller, she’s been engineering; but, while numbers are rising, in most nations fewer than 12% of engineers are female. We’re betting this generation of Mighty Girls will change that, but to do so, they need all the support and encouragement we have to give!

    If you want to foster your Mighty Girl’s interest in engineering, this blog will give you the resources to do that. Whether you’re sharing stories of women engineers, tinkering with some great engineering toys, or getting her a shirt that lets her declare to everyone what she wants to be when she grows up, you’ll be letting her know that her dream can become reality.

    For more Mighty Careers posts, check out the earlier entries in the series about astronauts, wildlife biologists, and pilots. Continue reading

  • Mighty Careers: I Want To Be An Astronaut!

    By Katherine Handcock, A Mighty Girl Communications Specialist

    girl-astronaut[1]Welcome to our new blog series, Mighty Careers! In this series, we’re going to celebrate careers that your Mighty Girl may be dreaming of pursuing one day. In each blog, we’ll profile a career role model and provide recommendations for books, toys, clothing, and even room decor to help inspire your Mighty Girl in her aspirations. Whether she’s three or thirteen, there will be resources to help her learn more about her dream job, imagine herself living it, and let the world know what she hopes to be when she grows up.

    In the first blog post of the series, we’re focusing on a career field that is popular with many Mighty Girls: astronaut! There’s something about space that captivates many kids, but it's often difficult to find resources that feature girls and women as astronauts.

    To make it easier, we've pulled together a series of great fictional books and biographies about female astronauts and space scientists. We've also included recommendations for great pretend play or learning toys to foster her interest in space and astronomy. And, of course, since no space-crazy Mighty Girl’s wardrobe would be complete without a nod or two to her love of the stars, we've also sought out a collection of space-themed clothing.

    So take a look at what’s out there to help your Mighty Girl’s dream of space grow! Even if a career in space isn’t in her future, she’ll always remember that you encouraged her to reach for the stars.

    For more ways to encourage your Mighty Girl to aim high, check out the other entries in our Mighty Careers series.
    Continue reading

  • Ignite Her Curiosity: Toys for Sparking Your Mighty Girl's Interest in Science

    a-bodyBy Katherine Handcock, A Mighty Girl Communications Specialist

    “Children are born true scientists. They spontaneously experiment and experience and re-experience again. They select, combine, and test, seeking to find order in their experiences — ‘which is the mostest? which is the leastest?’ They smell, taste, bite, and touch-test for hardness, softness, springiness, roughness, smoothness, coldness, warmness: they heft, shake, punch, squeeze, push, crush, rub, and try to pull things apart.”

    — R. Buckminster-Fuller

    Do you remember a time when learning how the world worked was fascinating? Many of us lose that sense of wonder, even if we regain it later. But fading interest in all things science isn’t the inevitable progression of childhood! You can help your Mighty Girl maintain her love of science with a little time, effort, and some great science toys.

    In this blog, we highlight a few of our favorite toys for different age groups that promote an interest in science, technology, engineering, and the natural world. You can also visit our entire selection of nearly 300 empowering STEM-oriented toys in our science / technology toy section. Continue reading

  • An Earth Day Tribute to the Mighty Girls & Women of the Environmental Movement

    ?????By Lili Sandler, A Mighty Girl Senior Research Intern

    Happy Earth Day! Earth Day is celebrated on April 22nd in almost 200 countries all over the world as a day to support and protect the Earth. Many communities have volunteer opportunities during the entire week -- often referred to as Earth Week -- so that individuals can take part in environmental activities to help care for the Earth.

    At A Mighty Girl, our Earth Week focus is on the Mighty Girls and women of the environmental movement. How have girls and women contributed to our global understanding of ecology, recycling, alternative energies, and many other environmental issues? More ways than you can count!

    Below you’ll find many of our favorite books and films about real-life environmentalists to share with the eco-kids in your life! And, if you missed the first two blogs in our Earth Day series, you can learn more great fictional stories about the environment starring Mighty Girl in our post on Ten Mighty Girl Books to Inspire Young Environmentalists and about toys to teach children about the environment in our post on post on Eco-Toys, Games, and Gear for Green Girls. Continue reading

  • Today in Mighty Girl History -- Neurobiologist Rita Levi-Montalcini

    leviToday in Mighty Girl History, we remember the contributions of Nobel Prize-winning neurobiologist Rita Levi-Montalcini who died today at the age of 103. Born into a Jewish-Italian family in Turin in 1909, Levi-Montalcini's years in medical school coincided with the rise of fascism in Italy and the imposition of anti-Semitic laws which limited her career prospects.

    Once WWII broke out, she and her family decided to stay in Italy rather than flee overseas and she built a laboratory in her bedroom to continue her research work. It was in this makeshift laboratory that she began studying the development of chicken embryos; research that laid the underpinning of her later Nobel Prize-winning work on the mechanism of cell growth regulation.

    After the Nazi invasion of Italy in 1943, Levi-Montalcini and her family were forced underground and moved to Florence where she worked as a doctor in Allied war camps after the city was liberated. Following the war, in 1946, she moved to the U.S. for more than twenty years to conduct research at Washington University in St. Louis. It was there that she discovered nerve growth factor, a protein which regulates the growth of cells; this discovery was critical to better understanding tumor growth among other conditions. Continue reading

  • A Mighty Girl Top Pick: Wangari Maathai Picture Books

    Wangari Maathai was a highly accomplished Kenyan environmentalist who has been the subject of a number of recent stunning picture books. After training as a biologist in the U.S., Maathai founded the Green Belt Movement, an environmental and women's empowerment organization that trains women in rural Kenya to plant trees in order to combat deforestation. Since its founding in 1977, her organization has planted over 40 million trees and trained over 30,000 women in trades that provide them with income and preserve the country's natural resources. Maathai's efforts effectively transformed the landscape of Kenya and raised countless women out of poverty. For her great contributions, Maathai received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 -- becoming the first African woman to do so.

    In the past several years, four picture books have been released on the life and work of Maathai. All four are beautifully illustrated and trace her life from her early girlhood days to her founding of the Green Belt Movement and the impact her work had on the land and people of Kenya. Continue reading

  • An Earth Day Tribute to the Leading Ladies of the Modern Environmental Movement

    Jane Goodall at Gombe

    In honor of Earth Day, A Mighty Girl would like to recognize two of the greatest female environmentalists of the 20th century -- Jane Goodall and Rachel Carson. Jane Goodall is a British primatologist and the world's foremost expert on chimpanzees. She is especially well-known for her work running a 45-year long study on wild chimpanzees in the Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania. Goodall also founded the Jane Goodall Institute to support the on-going research at Gombe and she works extensively on animal welfare and conservation issues.

    For children interested in learning more about the life and work of Jane Goodall, several excellent books are available including two recent books for younger readers ages 4 to 8. Me...Jane, a Caldecott Honor book by Patrick McDonnell, tells the story of a very young Jane and the toy chimpanzee which helped spark her interest in conservation. Alternatively, The Watcher: Jane Goodall's Life with the Chimps focuses on Jane throughout her years working in the field studying chimps and leading a global crusade to protect their habitat. Readers ages 8 and up will delight in the youth-oriented autobiography, My Life with the Chimpanzees and Goodall's inspirational, adventure-filled account of her life in the wilds of Africa and her struggle to protect the animals she came to love. An excellent documentary on Goodall and her work called Jane's Journey is also available and highly recommended for viewers 8 and up.

    Rachel Carson

    Rachel Carson was an American marine biologist and conservationist, who is particularly well-known for her work on the environmental effects of synthetic pesticides. This research led her to write her seminal work Silent Spring which served as a rallying point for the young environment movement just gaining momentum at the time of its publication. Her book, marking its 50th anniversary this year, and the activism it inspired spurred a nationwide ban on DDT and other pesticides. For her many contributions to environmental conservation, President Carter posthumously awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

    Like Goodall, Carson has also been the focus of a several recent picture book biographies perfect for readers ages 5 to 10: Rachel Carson: Preserving a Sense of Wonder by Joseph Bruchac, Rachel: The Story of Rachel Carson by Amy Ehrlich, and Rachel Carson & Her Book that Changed the World by Laurie Lawlor. The first two biographies follow similar arcs, introducing Rachel in childhood as a young girl curious about the nature world and following her progression to adulthood and her work on conservation. The third book, just published in February, provides more of an in-depth look at her book, Silent Spring, and its galvanizing effect on the environmental movement.

    For older readers, 11 and up, Rachel Carson: A Twentieth-Century Life by Ellen Levine provides a more comprehensive overview of Carson's life and work. Booklist also notes how in this book, "Levine emphasizes the prevailing attitudes toward women's roles and how Carson was able to overcome those limiting expectations to break ground and become such an effective voice for environmental concerns."

    For more inspiring environmentally-oriented reading recommendations, visit A Mighty Girl's special feature on Top Children's Books on the Environment.

  • The Forgotten Legacy of Amalie Noether

    Amalie Noether was a groundbreaking 20th century mathematician who Albert Einstein called "one the most 'significant” and “creative' female mathematicians of all time." Although Noether made tremendous contributions to theoretical physics and abstract algebra, even among the scientific community Noether is virtually unknown today. Unfortunately, this type of obscurity is a fate common to many women scientists and mathematicians of the past and perhaps one all the more bitter due to the struggles they underwent to achieve respect and recognition in their own time.

    Amalie Noether

    At A Mighty Girl, we believe the celebration of women's history should be a year-round endeavor and not simply relegated to its official month of March.  As such, we want to take a moment to remember the life and work of Amalie Noether, a groundbreaking 20th century mathematician. The New York Times ran a wonderful feature about Noether this past week, describing how Albert Einstein called her "one the most 'significant” and “creative' female mathematicians of all time." Although Noether made tremendous contributions to theoretical physics and abstract algebra, the NY Times recounts how, even among the scientific community, Noether is virtually unknown today. Unfortunately, this type of obscurity is a fate common to many women scientists and mathematicians of the past and perhaps one all the more bitter due to the struggles they underwent to achieve respect and recognition in their own time.

    We've found locating high-quality biographies of women scientists and mathematician to be quite challenging. With the exception of a few famous cases like Jane Goodall, who is fairly well represented in children's literature, there appear to be rather slim pickings for these types of biographies. In Amalie Noether's case, we were able to track down one biography about her for young readers but this is not the case for many female historical figures.

    Even so, we are optimistic that there are no doubt many great biographies available that we haven't yet encountered. If you have any to recommend, we'd love to hear from you. Post your recommendation in the comments below or using the "Feedback & Support" button on the right side-bar. Thanks for helping a new generation appreciate the contributions of these great women!

    Image from Wikipedia

     

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