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Girls Have STEM Power

March 23, 2017
By Robert and Libby Strong and Richard Pollack - SMART Science , OVParent

What do you think of when you hear the term "scientist" or "mathematician" or "engineer"?

Do you think of a man like Albert Einstein? If you do, you are not alone. Many people think of men as scientists, engineers and mathematicians.

If you are a girl, look in the mirror. You can join many other females throughout history to make a great contribution to the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (known as STEM).

Article Photos

Kaela Lawson, left, and Abigia Smith conduct a science experiment.

Women have made many scientific discoveries and contributed to many discoveries. Sometimes, women were not acknowledged for their discoveries until much later. An example of this is Mary Anning who, even as a girl, was discovering fossils. Wives of famous scientists also often were overlooked when it came to giving credit for research. Examples are Antoine LaVoisier's wife, Marie-Anne Pierrette Paulze, who was a French chemist and noble, and the wife of Albert Einstein, Mileva Maric, who may have worked with him on his most notable theories.

In the early days of space exploration, women played a major role in human beings getting off our planet and eventually stepping on the surface of the Moon. These women were sometimes called the "computers who wore skirts." Women who calculated the path for space vehicles to safely leave Earth and return were very valuable to the efforts of early NASA.

Recently, the movie "Hidden Figures" (also a book by Margot Lee Shetterly) depicted the lives of three African-American women - two of whom were from West Virginia - who worked at NASA in the early days. Katherine G. Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson assisted in sending John Glenn into orbit - the first American to orbit our planet. (Glenn was from New Concord, Ohio.)

Katherine was a gifted mathematician born in White Sulfur Springs,?W.Va. She graduated from high school in Institute, W.Va., and later became the first African-American woman to be admitted to graduate school in mathematics at West Virginia University. Dorothy became a noted computer scientist and taught many women computer programming language. She graduated from Beechurst High School in Morgantown, W.Va. Mary was from Hampton, Va., and in 1958 became NASA's first black female engineer.

March is Women's History Month. Think about all of the contributions of women to the STEM fields. They are amazing! Then, think of ways you can follow the advice of Katherine: "Roll up your sleeves and practice" and "Keep trying." You may be the next STEM history maker!



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