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Category: computer scientists
  • 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

  • The "Women of NASA" Lego Set has become one of this year's top toys -- now learn the inspiring stories of these trailblazing scientists!

    When LEGO released their Women of NASA Building Set last month, it was a sensation. Our Facebook post announcing its release quickly went viral. The set became Amazon's bestselling toy and sold out within a day, showing the strong demand for science toys with female scientists at the forefront!

    The set features four pioneering women who made major contributions to the U.S. space program: astronomer and educator Nancy Grace Roman; computer scientist Margaret Hamilton; astronaut and physicist Sally Ride; and astronaut, physician, and engineer Mae Jemison. The 231-piece set, created by LEGO fan and science writer Maia Weinstock, includes minifigures of all four women and buildable models of the Hubble space telescope and a space shuttle.

    Weinstock, who first proposed the set on LEGO's crowdsourcing design platform, designed her set to increase awareness of the contributions these women made to the space program and to science as a whole. In her proposal, she wrote: “In many cases, their contributions are unknown or under-appreciated — especially as women have historically struggled to gain acceptance in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM)." In a later interview, Weinstock added that she believes it's "critical to have toys that girls can look at and play with and think, ‘that's me!'’ or ‘that could be me!"

    The massive popularity of this unique set — the first of its kind since the now discontinued LEGO Research Institute — has generated a sense of excitement and curiosity about the women of America's space program. But while many children and adults may recognize their names, few people know the details of these pioneering scientists' work. In this blog post, we're introducing you to these remarkable women, filling in the details about their careers and why they deserve to hold a special place in space history. We've also recommended books for all ages that let those interested explore their fascinating stories in greater depth. They've been immortalized in LEGO form; now it's time to celebrate the women themselves! Continue reading Continue reading

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