Friday, October 7, 2011

Ada Lovelace and Inspiring Women

Happy Ada Lovelace Day, everyone!

I've talked before about some of the women I find inspiring as a scientist, my mother, my grandmother, and Professor Millie Dresselhaus. Today, I'd like to talk about some of the other women who have inspired me as a scientist.

Until I reached high school, every science teacher I had was female. Actually, until college, I had exactly one male science teacher. Of those women, the one who I remember best and inspired me most was my 8th grade science teacher. It was the first year we were really focusing on chemistry, instead of biology or earth science, and Ms. George did fantastic demos. She was energetic, and sarcastic enough to handle a bunch of 12 and 13 year old students. The day she lectured about dihydrogen monoxide, I was falling out of my chair trying to muffle laughs while she very sincerely talked about how much of this dangerous substance was being dumped into our oceans.

She also wasn't afraid to push students who could have coasted. The final lab of the year was meant to combine all the different analysis techniques we'd been learning to identify the components in a jar of "sludge". She had a list of possible ingredients on the wall. Most students were given a jar with 5-6 components. My partner and I got a jar with 9 (there were 20 potential choices).

So thank you, Ms. George, for making me work!

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