Women in STEM Presentation at Alpharetta High School
On December 15, 2020, the Women in STEM organization at Alpharetta High School (Alpharetta, GA) invited me to speak to their group. I shared the keys that kept me interested in STEM despite negative social dynamics in middle school. These keys are based on a TEDxAlpharettaWomen talk which will be posted online in early 2021.1. Dirty hands
Get your hands dirty. Get involved in woodshop, bike repairs, set building, robotics, Habitat for Humanity, and similar programs. Engage in DIY projects at home.
Get tools in your hands. It builds spatial thinking and confidence. Hang up pictures. Ask for a toolbox for your birthday. Assemble IKEA furniture for your room or for your family.2. X-ray eyes
Learn how to spot superpowers in ordinary objects. This powerful ability lets you use existing objects and processes to solve problems.
Frustration breeds creativity. Whenever you find yourself frustrated, annoyed, or inconvenienced, there just might be something out there whose properties might be transferrable and USEFUL for addressing the situation. Be the one who finds it, and you'll be a superhero!
The asthma inhaler was born in the 1950's simply because a 13-year-old girl imagined her asthma medication coming in a spray can, like hair spray, instead of in bulky, fragile glass nebulizers.
Someone designed this screwdriver with onboard storage for different sizes of Phillips and flathead tips. I'm guessing they probably found themselves at the top of a ladder with the *wrong* screwdriver one too many times.
My grandfather, Dr. Jesus B. Nolasco, invented his own tooth flossers decades ago by filing down plastic forks and attaching thread to the tines. He should have kept a notebook and filed a patent!
We watched a JPL video demonstrating how origami is useful to NASA. It allows you to pack the greatest amount of equipment in the smallest volume possible.
The video we're watching is here: https://youtu.be/tpc9fF8idAU
Give kids and kids-at-heart books and toys that promote creativity, resourcefulness, and tool confidence. This blog post provides gift ideas. It also has pictures and videos of contraptions Sebastian has made that were inspired by our favorite gift book: Mini Weapons of Mass Destruction.3. Role models
Here are some resources:
- STEM Instagrammer: mary_annings_revenge
- Hidden Figures movie
- STEM GEMS book by Stephanie Espy
- Dr. Joy Wolfram’s TED talk (developing nanoparticles to treat cancer)
- Samaira Mehta’s CNBC interview (invented a board game to teach other kids how to code)
- Anushka Naiknaware’s TED talk (invented a bandage that tells you when it needs to be changed so you don’t get an infection)
- Dr. Sabrina Gonzalez Pasterski’s Daily Planet interview (built and flew her own plane when she was a teen)
The most powerful role models of all, though, are unsung heroes: relatable people in your everyday circle who leverage STEM and creativity to help others.
Thank you to Divya Vikram and the Alpharetta High School Women in STEM organization for having me!
©2020 Melanie Flores