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Category: Science
  • Dr. Sherri Mason's groundbreaking research discovered the widespread prevalence of microplastics in the environment.

    Dr. Sherri Mason, whose research alerted the world to the widespread prevalence of microplastics, has been awarded a 2018 Heinz Award for Public Policy for her groundbreaking work to address this growing health and environment problem. Mason was the first scientist to research and identify microplastics pollution in the Great Lakes, the largest freshwater system in the world. Her research brought international attention to the threats posed by microplastics, leading to state and federal bans on microbeads, tiny bits of plastic used in exfoliating scrubs and washes that Mason discovered were accumulating in the environment and the food chain. "Sherri’s research has made the issue of plastic pollution real and present for everyone," said Teresa Heinz, Chairman of the Heinz Family Foundation. "Her ongoing work can be an important key to ending the steady accumulation of plastics in our environment." Continue reading Continue reading

  • Pioneering mathematician Ada Lovelace is now the subject of a variety of books for all ages!

    English mathematician Ada Lovelace is widely considered the world's first computer programmer for her invention of the computer algorithm. Born in 1815 to the poet Lord Byron and Anne Isabella Byron, Lovelace's mathematical talents led to an ongoing collaboration with mathematician Charles Babbage, who called Lovelace the "Enchantress of Numbers." While translating an article by an Italian engineer on Babbage's Analytical Engine, a proposed early version of a mechanical general-purpose computer, Ada added her own extensive set of notes, three times as long as the original article, which contained a tremendous breakthrough — the first computer program or algorithm!

    Ada Lovelace's important contributions to the development of computers were nearly lost to history, but fortunately her story is becoming more widely known today. She is now the subject of a variety of books for readers of all ages and, in this blog post, we've showcased these titles along with toys and posters paying tribute to the mathematical genius who envisioned today's computer age. Continue reading Continue reading

  • Dr. Frances Arnold, who pioneered the field of "directed evolution," became the fifth woman in history to win the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

    Dr. Frances Arnold has just won the 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for pioneering the field of "directed evolution"  —  becoming the first American woman in history and the fifth woman overall to be honored.  The method she developed of engineering enzymes that mimic the process of natural selection has created a revolutionary new way for scientists and engineers to design more environmentally-friendly industrial processes. It's now being used in laboratories around the world to develop enzymes that can replace toxic compounds in everything from medicines to biofuels to laundry detergents. “My entire career I have been concerned about the damage we are doing to the planet and each other,” she says. “Change is easier when there are good, economically viable alternatives to harmful habits.” Continue reading Continue reading

  • Dr. Donna Strickland is only the third woman in history to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics.

    Physicist Donna Strickland has just won the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics for her groundbreaking work studying light and lasers — becoming the third woman in 117 years to win the prestigious award. The 59-year-old associate professor in the Physics and Astronomy Department at the University of Waterloo was a graduate student working on her doctoral dissertation when she and her supervisor invented chirped pulse amplification, a method that creates ultrashort, high-intensity bursts of laser light without destroying amplifiers. The technique is most famous for its use in the development of Lasik eye surgery, but it also allows manufacturers to drill tiny, precise holes and makes it possible to miniaturize laser systems. Strickland, who describes herself as a "laser jock," says that becoming the third woman ever to win a Nobel Prize in Physics is "surreal," adding, "It’s hard for me to take it in right now. But I’m trying to enjoy it." Continue reading Continue reading

  • For the first time in history, a woman will serve as NASA's chief flight director.

    NASA took another giant step for equality this week when it named Holly Ridings as its first female chief flight director! Ridings, who is originally from Amarillo, Texas, will lead the flight directors that oversee human spaceflight missions from Mission Control in Houston's Johnson Space Center.  "Holly has proven herself a leader among a group of highly talented flight directors,” says Director of Flight Operations Brian Kelly. "I know she will excel in this unique and critical leadership position providing direction for the safety and success of human spaceflight missions. She will lead the team during exciting times as they adapt to support future missions with commercial partners and beyond low-Earth orbit." Continue reading Continue reading

  • A Mighty Girl's top picks of picture books starring math-loving girls!

    Kids are natural mathematicians: they count, they categorize, they figure out patterns and they explore shapes and geometry. Even though many people think of math as simply numbers and equations, the truth is that math is everywhere in the world and in everything we do, from pouring a drink to building a block tower to saving allowance money for a special treat! And when we share stories with our kids that celebrate both the practicalities and the wonders of math, we can give them a strong foundation for becoming life-long math lovers — a trait that will suit them well whatever their future holds.

    In this blog post, we've featured our favorite picture books about math-loving Mighty Girls. These books show how math can be used to solve problems; how a knowledge of math can help you achieve goals; and how the deeper mysteries of math can be just as intriguing as any other scientific marvel! We've even included a picture book about a real-life female mathematician, whose childhood love of math became a history-making career. These titles are sure to inspire reluctant students to open their minds to math's possibilities, and young math lovers to explore their favorite subject even further! Continue reading Continue reading

  • The Apollo 11 moon landing nearly ended in failure -- until Margaret Hamilton's flight software saved the day.

    In this iconic photograph, pioneering computer scientist Margaret Hamilton stands next to the computer code that she and her team wrote to guide the Apollo spacecraft to the moon! Hamilton was the lead software designer for NASA’s Apollo program, and her forward thinking saved the 1969 Apollo 11 mission when the flight software she designed prevented a last-minute abort of the famous landing which brought the first humans to the Moon. Over the course of her career, Hamilton developed the concepts of asynchronous software, priority scheduling, and Human-in-the-loop decision capability, which became the foundation of modern software design. She also fought for programming to be given the respect it deserved, coining the term "software engineering" ; after all, as her work showed, software could make the difference between failure and a groundbreaking success. Continue reading Continue reading

  • Stephanie Kwolek's invention of Kevlar has saved countless lives over the past 40 years.

    Stephanie Kwolek's invention of Kevlar has saved countless lives over the past 40 years. Kevlar is a fiber five times stronger than steel that is now used in numerous products ranging from boots for firefighters to spacecraft — and most famously, in bulletproof vests. It's estimated that since Kevlar's introduction to body armor in the 1970s, the lives of over 3,000 police officers have been saved, as well as those of innumerable soldiers and others in conflict zones. On the day that the pioneering chemist passed away in June 2014 at the age of 90, DuPont announced that the one-millionth protective vest made using Kwolek's lifesaving invention was sold. Continue reading Continue reading

  • These Mighty Girls are national finalists in the premier science competition for middle schoolers!

    The Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge is the premier science competition in the U.S. for middle school kids and, like every year, the Mighty Girls in the competition continue to astound! The event challenges kids in 5th through 8th grades to use their scientific know-how to come up with an invention or solution that addresses an everyday problem. Whether it's an issue that affects themselves, their family, their community, or the whole world, they get to turn their ingenuity and drive towards making a difference — and every year, it's amazing what these young scientists think up!

    This year, three of the national finalists are Mighty Girl scientists! These Young Scientist finalists will be spending their summers working with mentors to develop their visions into a more polished prototype, and we can't wait to see the results at the finals in October, where they'll be vying for a $25,000 prize and the title of "America's Top Young Scientist" for 2018.

    In this blog post, we introduce you to these clever and creative Mighty Girls and their incredible projects. From using infrared light to detect microplastics in ocean water to designing a water-saving toilet flushing system to using alginate gel to relieve dental pain, these Mighty Girls' inventive solutions to everyday problems will inspire science lovers of every age! Continue reading Continue reading

  • Five downloadable posters featuring beloved Mighty Girl characters Rosie Revere and Ada Twist celebrating science, reading, and critical thinking!

    Author Andrea Beaty has created a series of free downloadable 11" x 17" posters featuring characters from her bestselling series of books, which celebrate science, reading, and critical thinking! These posters were created in support of the March for Science, and encourage kids to remember that all citizens -- astronauts, engineers, and architects, but also each and every one of us -- need to be informed and think critically to create a better world for all of us.

    Beaty is the author of two beloved books starring Mighty Girls in science, Rosie Revere, Engineer and Ada Twist, Scientist. She's also the creator of Rosie Revere's Big Project Book for Bold Engineers, a hands-on activity book which helps kids put engineering concepts to the test. She and illustrator David Roberts used Rosie and Ada, as well as Iggy from their book Iggy Peck, Architect, to highlight the importance of reading, education, and scientific literacy. Whether you're decorating your classroom or looking for inspiring wall art for your Mighty Girl's playroom, home lab, or bedroom, these posters provide an excellent reminder that every human's most powerful tool is their brain! Continue reading Continue reading

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