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Category: STEM
  • Experts offer tips for parents on building girls' confidence in math.

    “Why do smart people enjoy saying that they are bad at math?” laments Petra Bonfert-Taylor, a professor of engineering at Dartmouth College. “Few people would consider proudly announcing that they are bad at writing or reading.” After seeing one too many examples of adults “passing on [mathematical anxiety] like a virus,” Bonfert-Taylor has an important message for math-phobic parents and educators: “We are passing on from generation to generation the phobia for mathematics... [and] as a result, too many of us have lost the ability to examine a real-world problem, translate it into numbers, solve the problem and interpret the solution.” Continue reading Continue reading

  • A Mighty Girl's top picks of programming toys & games for kids of all ages!

    Computers and technology are all around us at both work and play — which means that knowing the ins and outs of programming is an ever more essential skill! While in the past kids could only start learning about programming when they were ready for text-based computer languages, today they can get started from with board games, color-coded programming languages, and much more, encouraging kids to see themselves as programmers from an early age.

    At the same time, sexism and stereotypes about computer programming can still pose obstacles to girls and women interested in getting into the technology industry. Although women were some of the first programmers in the world, today men outnumber women by a substantial margin, with only 19% of computer science degrees being awarded to female graduates in the United States. So now, more than ever, we need to show girls how programming fits into their lives — and teach them about the many contributions that women have made to the field!

    With that goal in mind, in this blog post, we're showcasing a selection of our favorite resources to encourage girls with an interest in technology — and to introduce coding to girls who may have never even considered the possibility. In the first part, we provide an array of toys and kits that teach kids the basics of programming logic and coding, and show them the amazing possibilities that come along with computer know-how. While in the second part, we share a selection of books for all ages featuring female programmers and coding pioneers. Together, we can raise a new generation of savvy Mighty Girl coders! 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 also included several picture books about real-life female mathematicians with history-making careers. 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

  • A Mighty Girl's top picks of STEM-themed games for all ages!

    "Science is not a boy's game, it's not a girl's game. It's everyone's game." — Nichelle Nichols

    When a baby drops a block over and over, she's doing what humans do naturally: turning science into a game! Playful experimentation is the first step to a lifetime of STEM learning. As kids get older, however, they can lose that creative spirit and start seeing learning about science and math as a chore, rather than a fun and exciting way to discover the wonders of the universe.

    In recent years, game designers have realized that science and math games can be much more engaging than just getting kids to recite trivia and memorize facts and figures. Newer STEM-themed games use clever rule design and colorful components to encourage critical thinking and make learning science and math engaging and fun! Whether someone is a science nut or a reluctant learner, these games are an excellent way to teach new material, solidify understanding, and make learning science and math playful again.

    With that in mind, we've put together a collection of our favorite STEM-themed games for kids of all ages. These games explore everything from math concepts to chemical reactions to geology. With so many to choose from, we're confident there's a game here for everyone!

    For more of our favorite toys and games to encourage an interest in STEM fields, visit our Science & Math Toy Collection. Continue reading Continue reading

  • 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

  • A Mighty Girl's top picks of space-themed toys and books for all ages!

    When LEGO's Women of NASA Building Set was released earlier, it sold out within a day. Clearly, there are a lot of Mighty Girls out there who are dreaming of outer space! While the set is now back in stock, there are also plenty of other options to inspire kids who are interested in space, as well as introduce them to trailblazing women of space exploration.

    To that end, in our Reach For the Stars blog post, we've showcased a selection of books, toys, and science kits to delight space-loving Mighty Girls from toddlers to teens! In the first half, we feature a range of space-oriented toys and science kits for all ages; while, in the second half, we share books for all ages (including adults) about women of the space program. From the earliest astronomers, to the mathematicians and engineers who helped NASA design and launch their rockets, to the ground-breaking female astronauts who stepped outside our atmosphere, they're sure to show your Mighty Girl that there's no limit to her dreams! 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

  • From an aerospace engineer to a helicopter pilot to a microbiologist, these five remarkable women will help lead the way in space exploration!

    When NASA announced its newest class of astronaut candidates, it included five  inspiring women! NASA received a record-breaking number of applicants for this astronaut class — over 18,000 in all — and the class itself has twelve members, their largest since the year 2000. "These women and men deserve our enthusiastic congratulations," said retired astronaut and Johnson Space Center Director Ellen Ochoa. "Children all across the United States right now dream of being in their shoes someday. We here at NASA are excited to welcome them to the team and look forward to working with them to inspire the next generation of explorers."

    The astronaut candidates have two years of training in front of them before they're ready to break Earth's atmosphere, but in the meantime, space-loving Mighty Girls have five new role models to look up to! In this blog post, we introduce you to these five remarkably talented women. And, to inspire children who dream of their own careers in space, at the end of the post, we've showcased a variety of girl-empowering books and toys about shooting for the stars! Continue reading Continue reading

  • A Mighty Girl's top picks of books for children about trailblazing female environmentalists of the past and present.

    With April's Earth Month comes a special opportunity to teach kids about the people all around the world doing important work to care for our environment and the life within it! In addition to the day-to-day activities that we can all do to reduce our impact on the planet, it's important to recognize the scientists and activists, both past and present, who have encouraged us to see our planet in a new way: not as a set of resources for us to extract when we please, but as a precious and delicate system that sustains all life that we must strive to protect.

    In this blog post, we're sharing books for children and teens about twenty female environmentalists who changed the way that we think and act toward the Earth. These women made groundbreaking discoveries, fought for meaningful change to laws and policies, and shared their outlook — and their joy in nature — with the world. They're sure to inspire kids to look at the world outside their front door with newfound appreciation and think about ways they can help protect the planet!

    For more Mighty Girl books about environmental issues, including many fictional stories, visit our special feature on the Top Children's Books on the Environment. Continue reading Continue reading

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