Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Girls Making Science History

“Why do people think girls can’t do science? Where did this crazy idea ever come from?” --Dr. Nancy Hopkins, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

On Monday, the winners of the Siemens Competition in Math, Science and Technology were announced at New York University.

Janelle Schlossberger and Amanda Marinoff, two 17 year-old seniors at Plainview-Old Bethpage John F. Kennedy High Schoolwon a $100,000 college scholarship prize for taking first place in the team category. The girls created a molecule that helps block the reproduction of drug-resistant tuberculosis bacteria.

Isha Himani Jain, a 16 year-old senior at Freedom High School won first place (and a $100,000 college scholarship) in the individual category. She studied and reported on the bone growth in zebra fish, whose tail fins grow in spurts, similar to the way children’s bones do.

The girls beat over 1,600 students nationwide who entered the Siemens competition. Out of 20 finalists selected by the judges, eleven of them were girls. It was the first year that girls outnumbered boys in the final round and I don't think it's because this is the first year that girls were "smarter at science" than the boys. Just like I don't think that in past years' competitions, boys were "smarter at science" than the girls. I think that adults and educators are finally encouraging girls to excel in science, technology, and math. We should all give these girls a great big science-y high five! You Go, Girl!

As a middle schooler, I really, really, really liked my science classes. In 5th grade, I got to make crystals inside a jar and watch films on the theory of continents and tectonic plate movement. For the science fair, I spent hours with my Dad building a maze for my pet hamster, Teddy.

I wanted to find out just what type of food would motivate him to reach the end of his maze the quickest. It
turned out that Teddy wasn't really motivated by anything, not even peanut butter. Even though my experiment was kind of a disaster, I had so much fun working on it! I made tons of charts and graphs to monitor his progress and felt very scientific with the brand-new stopwatch my parents gave me.

By the time I started 9th grade, I had secured a seat in advanced science class. I was one of two girls who sat in Mrs. Augrum's Advanced Earth Science class on the first day of my freshman year of high school. Even though I was very proud to be there, I quickly learned that it wasn't "cool" for a girl to work so hard at science. I was teased a lot and had many classmates ask me if they could copy my homework. I'm ashamed to admit that , buckling under popularity pressure, I decided to drop out of my advanced science classes when I reached the 10th grade.

I always wonder what would have happened if I had kept going or had encouragement from my teachers to combat the teasing of my classmates. I don't think I'd be winning any national science fairs, but I might have decided to study biology or chemistry in college.

So what's your science story? Do you proudly admit that you're a bit of a science nerd or do you fall asleep in class? Do you think that if you had a little more encouragement, you could find the fun in science? What fascinates you--the stars, dinosaurs, skin cells, venus fly traps? And what are some of your proudest science moments? Let's swap some science stories! I look forward to reading them!

Signing off,



piglet said...

I'm not really big on science. It's okay. I like writing better and plan to be a creative writing teacher when i grow up.

Anonymous said...

great idea andf article actully Awesome


Nobodie said...

I think that article was amazing, Heather, and I love Science, but I'm not motivated in class. I sometimes sleep in there. I mean, my Science teacher is lame and mean and boring, and humiliates kids like my younger brother, and he's not our favorite teacher. He only takes notes and blabs on and on about something, and when we didn't catch what he said, he yells at us. It's not fair. He never does anything fun like experiments or anything. We just sit there, bored to death.

Anonymous said...

I love science but I don't like geology.