“The greatest benefit derived from the study of science is that it lifts you out of and above the littleness of daily trials.”
~ Maria Mitchell, Astronomer (1818-1889)
Welcome to STEM-Inspirations! Do you want to inspire
- Your students
- Your friends and family
to pursue a career in STEM (Science+Technology+Engineering+Math)?
Who are your STEM Inspirations?
My dad was a nuclear engineer and my very first STEM Inspiration. Growing up in Atomic City, U.S.A. (Oak Ridge, Tennessee) I was surrounded by more Ph.D. scientists than the average kid. My dad, my cousin and my brother, all worked at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, where not too many years earlier, the nuclear fuel for the first atomic bomb was developed in secret. You might say that my entire hometown was a STEM Inspiration!
When I was in the 5th grade and finished my seatwork before the rest of the class, Mrs. Hamrick let met visit the school library. That’s where I met the African American scientist & inventor George Washington Carver in a biography that still inspires me today – he became an early STEM Inspiration!
I loved books and I loved art, but I was good in math, so I struggled with choosing a college major. One of my teenage STEM Inspirations was oceanographer Jacques Cousteau, who I watched brave the waters of the deep on his weekly TV show, The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau. A female cousin of mine worked at the The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts—yet another STEM Inspiration.
In My Father’s Footsteps
Though I considered majoring in marine biology like my cousin, ultimately, I followed in my father’s footsteps, studying environmental engineering at The University of Tennessee in Knoxville. I graduated in 1977, not long after the Women’s Movement began to impact the world of work.
At the time, many more women decided to go into science and engineering, but it would take awhile for the culture of work to adjust.
Like many female engineers of that era I never felt fully at home in the culture, and ultimately followed a different path by combining my engineering knowhow with my creative, bookish side. I took a job as editor of a technical magazine and later became a science writer for organizations such as the National Science Foundation, AT&T Bell Laboratories, and many others. I had discovered a different type of STEM career that suited my exact skills and interests!
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How do you spark interest—in yourself or your students—to carry through with the hard work it takes to achieve a career in STEM?
More and more we see that changing as determined and talented women and cultural minorities continue breaking barriers to entry in STEM fields.
The life stories of remarkable scientists, mathematicians, and engineers, such as Ada Lovelace, Marie Curie, and Mae Jemison, provide the kind of STEM Inspiration we need to help build confidence and break through these barriers.
STEM-Inspirations™ creates books & resources to educate and inspire young people to pursue careers in Science+Technology+Engineering+Math.
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