ALD22 Books: Beyond Coding, Prof Marina Umaschi Bers

Beyond Coding: How Children Learn Human Values through Programming, Prof Marina Umaschi Bers

Today, schools are introducing STEM education and robotics to children in ever-lower grades. In Beyond Coding, Marina Umaschi Bers lays out a pedagogical roadmap for teaching code that encompasses the cultivation of character along with technical knowledge and skills. Presenting code as a universal language, she shows how children discover new ways of thinking, relating, and behaving through creative coding activities. Today’s children will undoubtedly have the technical knowledge to change the world. But cultivating strength of character, socioeconomic maturity, and a moral compass alongside that knowledge, says Bers, is crucial.

Bers, a leading proponent of teaching computational thinking and coding as early as preschool and kindergarten, presents examples of children and teachers using the Scratch Jr. and Kibo robotics platforms to make explicit some of the positive values implicit in the process of learning computer science. If we are to do right by our children, our approach to coding must incorporate the elements of a moral education: the use of narrative to explore identity and values, the development of logical thinking to think critically and solve technical and ethical problems, and experiences in the community to enable personal relationships. Through learning the language of programming, says Bers, it is possible for diverse cultural and religious groups to find points of connection, put assumptions and stereotypes behind them, and work together toward a common goal.

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About the Author

Marina Umaschi Bers is professor at the Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Study and Human Development with a secondary appointment in the Computer Science Department at Tufts University. She heads the interdisciplinary Developmental Technologies research group. Her research involves the design and study of innovative learning technologies to promote children’s positive development, and has been featured in the New York Times, NPR, CNBCCBS News, Wall Street Journal and The Economist.

She is passionate about using the power of technology to promote positive development and learning for young children, and spoke at a 2014 TEDx talk on the topic Young programmers – think playgrounds, not playpens.  She has also written several books, including Teaching Computational Thinking and Coding to Young Children (2021), Coding as Playground: Programming and Computational Thinking in the Early Childhood Classroom (2018), The Official ScratchJr Book (2015), Designing Digital Experiences for Positive Youth Development: From Playpen to Playground (2012), and Blocks to Robots: Learning with Technology in the Early Childhood Classroom (2008).

You can follow her work here:

Twitter: @marinabers

ALD22 Books: Holding The Knife’s Edge, Dr Thato Motlhalamme and Dr Evodia Setati

Holding The Knife’s Edge: Journeys of Black Female Scientists, Dr Thato Motlhalamme and Dr Evodia Setati

To be born in a developing country is like competing in a race with your arms tied behind your back. To be born a female is to compete with your arms tied behind your back and blindfolded. An African child faces many barriers to education, health and social welfare. Yet, despite all these hurdles, some children grow up to become industry leaders in fields that seemed beyond reach in their childhood.

Authors Dr Thato Motlhalamme and Dr Evodia Setati follow the journeys of 14 award-winning and pioneering black women in Science, from their childhoods and education to their arrival in the upper echelons of various organisations, achieved through innovation, academic excellence, social intelligence, authentic leadership and tenacity. The humble rural beginnings of some of these women did not limit intellectual growth, but rather stimulated creative, out-of-the-box thinking, which has served them well in their respective industries and businesses.

The remarkable stories in Holding the Knife’s Edge: Journeys of Black Female Scientists tell of a deep hunger for knowledge, a determination and commitment to succeed, and a work ethic that ensures success. 

About the Authors

Dr Thato Motlhalamme is a wine biotechnologist and passionate medical bioscientist. She obtained a degree in Complimentary Medicine and a master’s degree in Medical Biosciences from University of the Western Cape and a PhD in Wine Biotechnology from Stellenbosch University. She is a Postdoctoral Fellow in Grape and Wine Sciences and has previously worked in academia as a tutor and junior lecturer and in the retail space as a health consultant. She has a passion for science and inspiring young women to choose careers in science.

Dr Evodia Setati is a microbiologist and professional coach. She is the recipient of the 2018 Distinguished Woman Scientist award (Engineering and Natural Sciences) from the Department of Science and Innovation. She obtained a BSc Hons degree from University of Limpopo, a PhD in Microbiology and a MPhil in Management Coaching from Stellenbosch University. She is a chief researcher in Grape and Wine Sciences. Evodia mentors early career academics and young scientists.  

You can follow their work here:

Twitter: @holdingtheknife
Instagram: @holdingtheknifesedge

ALD22: Mary Eliza Mahoney, Licensed Nurse

Mary Eliza Mahoney

Mary Eliza Mahoney

Mary Eliza Mahoney was the first African American woman to become a licensed nurse and to work professionally as a nurse in the USA.

Born in 1845 in Massachusetts, Mahoney’s interest in nursing began at school, where alongside traditional subjects she was taught about morality and humanity, and her interest was intensified by the increase in nurses during the American Civil War.

She began working as a maid, cook and nurse’s assistant at the New England Hospital for Women and Children, which employed only female doctors. After working there for 15 years, and at the age of 33, Mahoney enrolled in the hospital’s nursing course, which covered medical, obstetric, surgical and paediatric services.

The criteria for admittance was strict, and the course extremely rigorous, with lectures and lessons from doctors, bedside training, working in wards and placements at other sites such as private family homes. She was also working as a private-duty nurse to top up her meagre wages. Mahoney was one of only three women to successfully complete the training and graduate from her class of 42 women and the only African American woman to do so.

She began her career after graduation as a private care nurse working for rich white families, particularly new mothers and their children. Initially, many families treated her as akin to a household servant, but as she gained a reputation for efficiency and professionalism, she began to receive requests from patients in a number of states.

Mahoney wanted to improve nursing for other women of colour like herself and change how patients thought of nurses from her background. Mahoney joined the Nurses Associated Alumnae of the United States and Canada (NAAUSC), but discovered that they weren’t welcoming to African American women. This prompted her to start a new organisation, and in 1908, she co-founded the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses (NACGN). Although the organisation launched with only 26 nurses, she felt it was important to challenge the inequality of nursing education.

In her later career, Mahoney became the director of the Howard Colored Orphan Asylum, which was one of the few institutions run by African Americans. After she retired, she maintained her activist spirit, supporting women’s equality and suffrage, and demonstrating in the civil rights protests.

She died in 1926, aged 81.

The NACGN honoured her legacy by creating the Mary Mahoney Award in 1936, which continues today under the American Nurses Association, and is awarded to nurses who strive for equality in nursing. Mahoney was also the influence of the Mary Mahoney Professional Nurses Organization, started in 1949 by Anne Foy Baker for African heritage nurses.

Further Reading

ALD22 Books: Sway, Professor Pragya Agarwal

Sway: Unravelling Unconscious Bias, Professor Pragya Agarwal

For the first time, behavioural and data scientist, activist and writer Professor Pragya Agarwal unravels the way our implicit or ‘unintentional’ biases affect the way we communicate and perceive the world, how they affect our decision-making, and how they reinforce and perpetuate systemic and structural inequalities.

Sway is a thoroughly researched and comprehensive look at unconscious bias and how it impacts day-to-day life, from job interviews to romantic relationships to saving for retirement. It covers a huge number of sensitive topics – sexism, racism, ageism, homophobia, colourism – with tact, and combines statistics with stories to paint a fuller picture and enhance understanding. Throughout, Agarwal clearly delineates theories with a solid grounding in science, answering questions such as: do our roots for prejudice lie in our evolutionary past? What happens in our brains when we are biased? How has bias affected technology? If we don’t know about it, are we really responsible for it?

At a time when partisan political ideologies are taking centre stage, and we struggle to make sense of who we are and who we want to be, it is crucial that we understand why we act the way we do. This book will enables us to open our eyes to our own biases in a scientific and non-judgmental way.

Order the book on here and your purchase will support a local independent bookshop of your choice!

About the Author

Professor Pragya Agarwal is a behavioural scientist, with expertise in cognition, HCI and User-centred Design, focused especially on diversity and inclusivity. She was a senior academic for over 12 years at universities in the UK and USA, and held the prestigious Leverhulme Fellowship, following a PhD from the University of Nottingham. Agarwal has published numerous scientific articles and books, some of which are on the reading list for leading courses around the world.

As a freelance writer, she regularly writes thought pieces on racial and gender bias for The Guardian, Times Higher Education, The Independent, and various other publications. Agarwal is a two-time TEDx speaker, and has been invited to give keynote talks and workshops around the world, appearing on several international podcasts, radio and television channels, such as BBC Woman’s Hour, BBC Breakfast, and Radio 5 Live. Her next book Hysterical: Exploding the Myth of Gendered Emotions is out later this year.

You can follow her work here:

Twitter: @DrPragyaAgarwal
Instagram: @drpragyaagarwal

ALD22 Books: Superior, Angela Saini

Superior: The Return of Race Science, Angela Saini

After the horrors of the Nazi regime in World War II, the mainstream scientific world turned its back on eugenics and the study of racial difference. But a worldwide network of intellectual racists and segregationists quietly founded journals and funded research, providing the kind of shoddy studies that were ultimately cited in Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray’s 1994 title The Bell Curve, which purported to show differences in intelligence among races.

If the vast majority of scientists and scholars disavowed these ideas and considered race a social construct, it was an idea that still managed to somehow survive in the way scientists thought about human variation and genetics. Dissecting the statements and work of contemporary scientists studying human biodiversity, most of whom claim to be just following the data, Angela Saini shows us how, again and again, even mainstream scientists cling to the idea that race is biologically real. As our understanding of complex traits like intelligence, and the effects of environmental and cultural influences on human beings, from the molecular level on up, grows, the hope of finding simple genetic differences between “races”—to explain differing rates of disease, to explain poverty or test scores, or to justify cultural assumptions—stubbornly persists.

At a time when racialized nationalisms are a resurgent threat throughout the world, Superior is a rigorous, much-needed examination of the insidious and destructive nature of race science—and a powerful reminder that, biologically, we are all far more alike than different. 

Order the book on here and your purchase will support a local independent bookshop of your choice!

About the Author

Angela Saini is an award-winning science journalist and author based in New York. She presents radio and television programmes, and her writing has appeared in National Geographic, New Scientist, The Sunday Times and Wired. She is a spring 2022 Logan Nonfiction Program Fellow and was in Berlin in summer 2022 as part of the Humboldt Residency Programme on social cohesion. As the founder and chair of the ‘Challenging Pseudoscience’ group at the Royal Institution, Angela researches and campaigns around issues of misinformation and disinformation. 

Her previous book Inferior: How Science Got Women Wrong has been translated into fourteen languages. Both are on university reading lists across the world. Angela’s two-part television series for the BBC about the history and science of eugenics aired in 2019. She is currently finishing her fourth book The Patriarchs: In Search of the Origins of Male Domination, which will be published by 4th Estate and Beacon Press in early 2023.

You can follow her work here:

Instagram: @angeladsaini