We finished her first project which was a blinking LED. I told her how to wire up the breadboard and she did that.
Then she uploaded the code to the Arduino. I explained a little bit about what was going on and let her experiment with changing values in the code to see how the blinking of the LED would be altered. Once we figured out what values did what, we commented the code.
When I got home from work we broke out the Christmas presents. Mari looked at some of the prepared slides under the microscope and I showed I her how to place them for viewing. Our plan is to look at some new things under the microscope every day.
Emiko and I broke out the Arduino. We read some basics about circuits and familiarized ourselves with all the boards and components. I downloaded the software and tomorrow we will do our first project.
I did a little more work with Emiko on goals. I didn’t have her do SMART goals, but I made her be a more specific in some cases and to think a about what it would take to accomplish some of them. We also agreed that we would review our goals every Sunday and plan to make progress on some of them each week.
I worked with the girls this afternoon on some goal setting. We all listed as many things as we could think of that we would like to do in 2014. Here is Mari’s list:
I love that she tries to spell words even if she doesn’t know them (ninga). We’ll correct them later, but just getting down what she wants to do was important today.
Tomorrow I’ll share Emiko’s list.
In the morning, future SAHMs practice for the next day’s Christmas program.
Then go caroling in the evening.
A My First Lab Duo-Scope Microscope
Mari is interested in becoming a scientist. Her Christmas wish list included this microscope, a science lab, a dentist kit, and a veterinarian kit. Once again, my aversion to any girlified product.
An Arduino Uno Ultimate Starter Kit of course!
The breadboard doesn’t have a kitten picture on it and the wires aren’t pink or neon. It’s not girly or masculine; it’s electronics and that’s what she’s interested in learning about. During the summer, while she was learning Scratch, she said she wanted to build a robot as her next project. I researched kits and found a number based on Arduino. I explained that we should probably start with something more basic, similar to learning to write sentences before writing a whole book. She agreed and I found this kit. We’re going to have a great time learning and building the projects and hopefully we get as far as a full blown robot!
Holiday gifts that encourage STEM education
The gender imbalance in STEM fields is extreme. According to a 2010 AAUW report, boys and girls take math and science courses in roughly equal numbers in elementary, middle, and high school, however far fewer women than men pursue these fields in college. According to the National Science Foundation, 29% of all male freshmen planned to major in a STEM field in 2006 compared to 15% of all female freshmen.
Honestly, I wouldn’t lay this all at the feet of a STEM monoculture. Software development, as a part of that landscape, just isn’t that appealing to a lot of people. The tools to build an app (web or mobile) are freely available. The barriers to learning are very low, and the barriers to success are no higher than for males.
One way is to interest them with toys that fit their frames of reference, while bringing in some element of technology for a soft landing. The Goldie Blox book and toy series is an example where a character is portrayed as a “princess turned engineer.” The toys teach spatial skills and engineering principles.
I looked at some of these toys and I’m not convinced that going the route of making colorful and cute toys with STEM elements is the way to go. Code is black and white, terse, and cold. Trying to dress up a subject may hold a girl’s interest slightly longer, but you can only hide it so long before the truth comes out. Better to expose them to the real deal and let them honestly decide if they are interested in the subject.
Tomorrow I’ll post what we’re getting our future SAHMs.
This is one of my favorite drawings that Emiko has done recently. She really enjoys drawing and I think it’s an area to focus on when we help her discover a career. Seems like there would be a lot of SAHM friendly options.
Mari outgrew her bike so Erin’s parents and brother got her a new bike for Christmas. The size difference was frustrating her, but true to form she wanted to figure it out herself. The problem was that the new bike is too big to maneuver on the sidewalk, so I let her go in the street (with specific rules) and everything was fine after that.