Friday, December 14, 2012

Girls in Science at school : Ada Lovelace

Ada Lovelace's 197th birthday

"None of us is as smart as all of us" *

Some days ago, December 10th, Google celebrated with a Doodle the 197th anniversary of Ada LovelaceCountess of Lovelace (1815–52). Ada Lovelace, better known as the computer pioneer who did her pioneering a century before the computer revolution got under way in earnest. 

Ada Lovelace on Google’s home page on December 10th was shown writing her 'program' with a quill with her notes curling into the Google logo alongside the computers that descended from the Difference Engine and Analytical Engine. 

The last machine shown is a modern laptop playing music, thereby fulfilling Ada’s Victorian vision, as computers around the world do every day.

Ana de Lovelace
credits: portrait: Margaret Sarah Carpenter

Some notes:

In 1835, Ada married William King, and when King inherited a noble title in 1838, she became the Countess of Lovelace. 

Ada, the true tech pioneer, is often credited with being the first computer programmer, but that’s perhaps an inaccurate dumbing down of her role in computing history. 
In fact, the daughter of the Romantic poet Lord Byron, an absentee father whom she didn’t know, become Charles Babbage's lifelong friend. 
Charles Babbage, Lucasian professor of mathematics at Cambridge, was known as the inventor of the Difference Engine, an elaborate calculating machine that operated by the method of finite differences. 
She was an admirer and collaborator of Charles Babbage, the genius who designed the Difference Engine and Analytical Engine, mechanical computers he wasn’t able to build. 
Ada called herself 'an Analyst (& Metaphysician)', and the combination was put to use in the Notes.

Ada Lovelace, 1840
credits: watercolor by Ada King
She understood the plans for the device as well as Babbage but was better at articulating its promise. She rightly saw it as what we would call a general-purpose computer. 
Her notes on the Analytical Engine include a table documenting an algorithm for calculating Bernoulli numbers, hence the “first programmer” label. Babbage himself praised the originality of Ada's work.

Lovelace Notes anticipate future developments, including computer-generated music.
"Whatever Ada’s role in the history of programming, she grasped the importance of Babbage’s inventions and understood that math was only part of it: she theorized, for instance, that the Analytical Engine might be used to write music. That was a pretty profound thing to realize in the 1840s, many decades before anyone successfully built a computer, let alone one that could compose a tune."

More than a hundred years after her death, in 1953, Ada Lovelace's notes on Babbage's Analytical Engine were republished after having been forgotten. The engine was finally recognized as a model for a computer, and Ada Lovelace's notes as a description of a computer and software.

In 1980, the U.S. Department of Defense settled on the name "Ada" for a new standardized computer language, named in honor of Ada Lovelace.

 Photo: Paul Grover


"In the early nineteenth century there were no 'professional' scientists (indeed, the word 'scientist' was only coined by William Whewell in 1836), but the participation of noble women in intellectual pursuits was not widely encouraged." 

And what about in the 21st century? 

Here we are! The reason why I began my post with Ada Lovelace doodle.

I am not a woman of Sciences. But as an educator of Humanities, I can recognize the great value of this English scientist. Ada Lovelace who has inspired countless women to achieve their goals in a time of achievements of women and young girls in science, technology, engineering and maths. 

Ada Lovelace is a wonderful example to our young students (girls) to motivate them to pursuit science studies. And I wrote about Ada Lovelace on  my blog of students BlogdosCaloiros to encourage my students to learn out of school using the internet as a resource.

Iit is not the first time I write about girls in Science. Oh! No! Since the beginning I am encouraging sciende studies. 

You do remember Cinderella pr Cyberella or Maire Curie, Women in Sciences  and Technology in the Digital Age between others.

"Cyberella is a woman with a science or engineering degree, on her way to a decision making position in industry or in government and well-placed not only to benefit fully from the advantages of the Information Society, but also to take part in the design and production of technology. 

So, the gap of girls and young women in science and techonology in the 21st century is still a problem. 
That's why the European Commission recently launched a campaign to encourage more young women (secondary education, college, young researchers) to choose Science in their future careers. 
Several countries took part, the cornerstone of the campaign is a fresh and lively webpage, called Science: It’s a girl thing!
The competition offered people the chance to highlight the diverse career options that science offers to young women everywhere and to help raise young women’s interest in science at school and college. 
The winning videos have been shown at the European Gender Summit Networking Event 2012, November 29 at the Science14 in Brussels. You can watch the best videos here
And Stéphane Debove from France is the winner of Science it's your thing contest organized in November 2012 by the European Commission.
The creative video was successful in creating discussion and engagement, triggering an animated debate on how to promote science to young women, a crucial element in bringing the campaign to life.
Last week, the French newspaper Le also published an article Des vidéos pour inciter les filles à faire des sciences to engage, excite and educate girls for Science, Engineering and Technology! 

Watch the winner video below:

Some conclusions:
The European Gender Summit was dedicated to support and advance excellence and effectiveness of research and innovation at all levels, through the inclusion of gender. 

The discussion of new discoveries and a better understanding of the role of the gender dimension in many different areas of study, and how these findings can lead to new ideas and new markets for science knowledge were some of the aims. 
Constantly evolving education at all ages and levels in our ever-changing world is crucial.
"A generation of motivated interdisciplinary young women who are critical thinkers capable of connecting theory and practice with proven experience in conceiving and managing innovative projects will serve as the backbone for the society of knowledge by integrating and reviving basic and developmental research as well as education at all levels."
The graduate school mentors are to guide the process by providing the appropriate background and filling the gaps where needed through a dialogue with the students rather than through frontal courses.
Girls and women are more and more proving in different situations at school and in business that they are equal to men in the intelligence and capacity.

This begins early in school where girls must be encouraged to access to science and techonoly.

The aim is to encourage creativity in the field of science and new technologies and highlight the importance of developing innovative skills at an early age.

"I am among those who think that science has great beauty. A scientist is his laboratory is not only a technician: he is also a child placed before natural phenomena which impress him like a fairy tale."

Marie Curie


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Ada Byron, Countess of Lovelace

Ada Lovelace

Des vidéos pour inciter les filles à faire des sciences

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