Tuesday, November 15, 2011

My Creative Little Scientist: Why Aren't More Black Women Pursuing Careers in STEM?

Looking at the insides of a bean with a magnifying glass 
and then planting it in a Dixie cup of dirt. Because this was the first station, it   
meant transporting that dirt through the entire science fair - fun for Mommy!

Science and math are swirling around me these days. I took my kindergarten age daughter to her first school science fair last night and we had a blast learning how plants grow, experimenting with the power of light, and even making ice cream. When I was a kid, I wasn't particularly enamored with science, but I was quite good in math - until about the fourth or fifth grade. Words and the love of reading and writing just surpassed my interest in developing my mathematics abilities. And it appears I am not alone losing interest in science and math around the middle school age. 

 Checking out the effects of a black light shone for one minute on a key on paper. 
Submerged in water for another minute and voila! We've got a cool experiment. 
Added counting bonus: We counted to 100 for each one of the minutes needed 
to wait for a development stage at this station.

Middle school is when girls start to lose confidence in their science and math abilities, according an article about robotics in the November 2011 issue of Inside Spelman, the digital publication I edit at Spelman College. The lack of interest in science and math beginning as early as primary school  was also mentioned in a recent article I read by AP's Jesse Washington on the declining numbers of African Americans in the fields of STEM - science, technology, engineering and math. Washington's piece cited only two percent - 176 - of Ph.D.s awarded in biological and biomedical sciences that went to Black women in 2009. Why is that? 

Loved the illuminating effects of looking at the different colors of light 
reflected at the end of prisms made by holding different shaped pieces of glass 
up to lights of various strengths in the dark.

The thought of my daughter being interested in science and math is only a bit foreboding because I still have to give myself that quick pep talk before trying to understand what may seem like complex theories or problems that I occasionally encounter in my work at Spelman. And of course I'd love for her to choose a career in a creative field. But having been exposed to the amazing STEM accomplishments of Spelman students - from creating iPhone apps to being leaders in the field of robotics - I'm realizing that if my baby chooses a life of exploration and problem-solving in STEM, creativity will most certainly be involved. 

 For an extra special treat, there were even two very big rodents 
showcased by visitors from the Atlanta Zoo. This particular species is found 
on every continent. Glad we just caught the end of this session.
 I have to admit, I did get the willies looking at those long tails....

And last but not least: homemade ice cream 
we made by shaking it up in a bag of ice and salt.

 Four minutes of vigorous shaking required a joint effort. 
I had to get into the act. 

And the reward was sweet! 
Homemade chocolate ice cream - Yummy!

Why aren't more young Black women pursuing careers in STEM fields? I'll be hosting an Inside Spelman tweet chat exploring Black women and STEM - TODAY - Wednesday, November 16 from noon to 1 pm if you'd like to share your thoughts. Even if you miss the chat, the conversation will keep going. Follow Spelman College on Twitter and use #InsideSpelman to join the dialogue. 

And keep Enjoyceinglife!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Heavy D & MJ: Gone Too Soon

This morning I was totally caught by surprise when I heard Heavy D's voice on Micheal Jackson's "Jam," while writing a magazine review of the new soundtrack to Cirque Du Soleil's "Immortal," their MJ-inspired show. I forgot Heavy was on that track. For some reason I'm having quite an emotional reaction to hearing their collaboration. I guess with the news filled with Conrad Murray's conviction and Heavy's passing, I'm just sensitive. I'm enamored with creative souls. And these are two talents who are just, in the words of MJ, "Gone Too Soon."

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Join Me Now @SpelmanCollege Tweet Chat - From Civil Rights to Occupy Wall Street

Join the Conversation at Noon & Win! - Please Join Me at Noon on Twitter: From Civil Rights to Occupy Wall Street: @SpelmanCollege Tweet Chat, TODAY, Wed, 11/9, 12-1 pm.

In the November issue of Inside Spelman, Dr. Gwendolyn Middlebrooks, C'61, Spelman associate professor emeritus and an original member of the Atlanta Student Sit-In Movement, explores the Civil Rights and Occupy Wall Street movements. Have you been involved in any movements? What are your thoughts on how these and other activist movements have evolved to affect change? We'd like to know your story. 
Please follow @SpelmanCollege on Twitter and share with us during this tweet chat.  Be sure to use the hashtag: #insidespelman. The best tweet wins!

Monday, November 7, 2011

King of the Evening

There is something really touching about Glynn Turman's performance in the little known film, Kings of the Evening. While Tyson Beckford's acting left a lot to be desired, I was quite moved by the complex relationship between Lynn Whitfield's character and Glynn Turman's. He was able to give his character depth, the layers of which he deftly revealed as the story unfolded. The talent of Turman, Whitfield and even the newcomer Linara Washington made you understand how hard it must have been in the 1930s Depression era for black people just trying to make their way. While a little rough around the edges, I find this film to be a gem - one I hope many will get a chance to see. 

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