Girls Get Digital at The Curiosity Hub

by Suw on November 18, 2014

Guest post by Jacqueline Currie, The Curiosity Hub

Curiosity hub

I organised an event in Brighton, UK on Saturday 11th October called ‘Girls Get Digital! (Celebrating Ada Lovelace Day)’. The event was sponsored by American Express and equipment and activities provided by my not-for-profit company Curiosity Hub. We also had a number of volunteers helping out (including 6 American Express employees). We had over 55 girls attend in total, aged from 6 to 12, with their parents. We ran 5 one-hour sessions (with 8-16 girls in each) with Lego robotics (WeDo and Mindstorms EV3), creating a computer game with Scratch, website development with HTML and stop-motion animation with SAM animation.

At the start of each workshop I gave a short introduction to Ada Lovelace Day, STEAM in everyday life and pictures of women in computing careers. You can see some photos from the event here. I also gave a short talk about Ada Lovelace at Codebar Brighton on the 14th October – Codebar encourages diversity in tech through free mentoring and 1:1 coding workshops for adults.

I asked parents to fill out an online survey after the Saturday event; there are some great quotes from the survey and from other emails I received:

What were the best things about this event?

My daughter: “That you got to make new friends as your partners” Me: That it made STEAM careers seem like a viable choice for girls – not unusual, just presented as an option.

Wonderful helpful staff… so enthusiastic and informative.

Well planned event, enthusiastic and friendly helpers, great way to increase girls’ confidence in a traditionally male orientated domain!

Friendly helpful staff. Great learning atmosphere.

Gives girls the opportunity to try things in a stress-free environment.

Providing a supportive environment in which children can learn, try new things and expand their horizons.

Many volunteers available to help every child. Very well organised. Educational as well as fun.

Children allowed to independently design, create and enjoy the animation for themselves, without adult direction or parental involvement. Great to see my daughter in action.

The way this opened my daughter’s eyes on what is possible using the computer.

Location, day and time, friendly and lots of help, only girls of similar age.

Other comments

It has been great to see my daughter grow in confidence, as her ability is high, but she allows herself to sit back, so this has been really good for her.

Thanks, this was a really good opportunity. I think there was something different about the buzz of the all girls event too (although would be v happy to attend a mixed event).

Perfect in every way! Thank you so much xx (especially as my daughter has additional needs and she still thrived in this environment!).

Cleo had an amazing time- thank you!

Keep on doing what you are doing and well done!

We thoroughly enjoyed the workshop.

Thank you. We appreciate the free taster session and really enjoyed it.

Keep up the good work! It was great that the day’s events were free!

Just a quick thanks for the session – Ella loved it and learned a lot (without realising it) – so thanks for putting on the workshop for free.

Maddie and her friends very much enjoyed experimenting with the Mindstorm robots.

Thank you so much for organising this event. Hannah really loved it, and she got loads out of it.

I love that Ada Lovelace Day really helps in promoting the idea that women working in STEAM should not seem weird or unusual, but recognises that it is currently uncommon, and so celebrates women’s achievements and focuses on practical events to help reverse that.

Oxford University Wikipedia edit-a-thon

by Suw on November 18, 2014

Guest post from Sarah Wilkin and Elizabeth McCarthy, University of Oxford

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To launch the award-winning Engage: Social Media Michaelmas series hosted at the University of Oxford and celebrate this year’s Ada Lovelace Day (14th October), the Educational Enhancement team worked in partnership with staff from the Bodleian Libraries and Wikimedia UK to lead a wikipedia editathon. In line with the occasion, the day centred on enhancing online coverage of female contributions to science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The afternoon began with a fascinating talk by Professor Ursula Martin about the history and work of Ada Lovelace and then continued with an engaging training session with three enthusiastic Wikimedia trainers. The event was well attended by staff and students from multiple departments across the University who all worked hard to enhance several articles on female scientists. Energy levels were maintained high by a delicious Ada themed cake which further contributed to what was an enjoyable and thoroughly productive afternoon of editing!

The Bodleian Libraries are planning a display of Ada Lovelace material as well as a number of related events for 2015, including an academic symposium and events exploring Ada’s contributions to music, mathematics, computing, popular culture and more.

ALD14 cake

Guest post by David Wells, Senior Lecturer, Secondary ITT, University of East London

Uni East London ALD14

Six female Post Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) student teachers lead an evening session to celebrate Ada Lovelace Day; Dana Addo, Jagdeep Matharu, Melissa Thomas, Hamda Ahmed and Sabrina Sahebdin.

They talked about Ada Lovelace and her later followers. They researched current female involvement in technology, giving an enlightening overview of their history.

Melissa and Dana pointed out that women hold only 28 % of IT jobs and discussed the possible Influences on this. They suggested that from their research it’s very strange because 92 % Year 5/6 girls enjoyed IT and 86% wanted to continue to study the subject in secondary school but only 3 wanted to undertake it as a job.

They had researched a range of initiatives to try to counteract the stereotyping of women in IT, including:

Geek gurl diaries: This is a website designed and managed by an ex UEL student IT teacher, Carrie Anne Philbin. She has set up a network for students and professionals and has written and published resources for teaching IT and Computing.

Following this Stacey Pogoda, a UEL Senior Lecturer in Gaming and Games Design, told her personal story and that of others who have been persecuted for being women in the field of IT and Gaming.

The trainees made a powerful case for using female role models when teaching classes about IT and Computer Science. They offered advice about how to encourage primary school girls to enjoy and take up the subject.

They finished by saying “We think making a difference begins at school.”

US art exhibit highlights women in STEM 

by Suw on September 10, 2014

Science editor and writer Maia Weinstock (@20tauri) describes a unique ALD event in the United States this fall. 
Go Ahead And Do It
To mark the sixth annual Ada Lovelace Day, artistic portraits of more than 30 pioneering women in the STEM fields will be on display for one month at the Art.Science.Gallery. in Austin, Texas. The exhibit, Go Ahead and Do It: Portraits of Women in Science, opens on Saturday, Sept. 13th and runs through Ada Lovelace Day, Oct. 14th.

The show will feature paintings, drawings, collages, a quilt, and framed LEGO figurines depicting STEM heroines throughout history. Scientists represented include classic STEM icons such as Hypatia and Marie Curie as well as more recent role models like Grace Hopper, Jane Goodall, Sylvia Earle, and Shirley Ann Jackson.

The idea for the show was hatched earlier this year when I published a photo essay for Scientific American on the same theme entitled, 15 Works of Art Depicting Women in Science. One of the artists I interviewed, Hayley Gillespie, happens to run the Art.Science.Gallery., and after chatting about the possibilities, we decided to bring the virtual exhibit into the real world. The 11 featured artists in Go Ahead and Do It — the title of which is borrowed from a famous Grace Hopper quote — all have unique styles and reasons for covering the topic of women in science, so we will be including notes about their motivations and inspirations as part of the show.

In keeping with ALD tradition, the last two days of the exhibit will encourage action from the public. On the penultimate day, the gallery will host a Wikipedia edit-a-thon that will teach attendees how to add images of women in STEM to Wikimedia Commons, the repository of photos and other media used on Wikipedia articles. On Ada Lovelace Day itself — the final day of the show — the gallery will host an ALD party that will include a brief talk by yours truly on some of the history and sociology behind portraiture featuring women in STEM.

We’d love to see visitors from around the globe attending our show, so please help us spread the word! We fully acknowledge that most visitors will be from Texas, but we absolutely hope to see you there if you can join us. Of course, if you know of anyone who lives in or travels to Austin, please send them our way! The gallery will include a shop with items related to the show, and all original artworks will be for sale, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting Girlstart, a non-profit that provides opportunities for girls to become involved in STEM fields.

Wikimedia seeks organisation to host editathon intern

15 July 2014

Wikimedia UK is a charity that supports Wikipedia and other open knowledge projects in the UK. It has been running ‘Women in Science’ editathons for the last two years, during which 15-30 people gather for an afternoon to learn how to contribute to Wikipedia. They then create or improve articles about women in science, and […]