STEM Women Pioneers

Good morning! Here’s the Monday Morning Blog!

How was your week? Did you touch base with that teen in your life? We are back to having both of our young adults in the house again. It feels good having all of us together.

National Women’s History Month

Women's History Month Logo

I’ll be focusing the posts this month on women who have done inspiring things or made contributions to our country’s history. The two women I’ll be talking about today meet both of these criteria.

Their contributions utilize the elements found in STEM, an acronym introduced in 2001 by scientific administrators at the National Space Foundation (NSF)

STEM Defined

STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Using the term STEM is a way to bring all of these disciplines together. Many people struggle with the classes that are found in the STEM family. However, they are found in many things in our day to day lives. Science develops vaccines and new foods. Technology creates new iPhones and tablets every year. Engineering helps to build things like buildings and bridges. Finally, Math calculates the statistics you see on the news and determines how much fuel to put on the airplane which takes you on your family vacation.

Women Pioneers using STEM

To celebrate National Women’s History Month, I want to talk about two ladies who made contributions to our country’s history through the use of elements found in STEM. One is Emily Warren Roebling who contributued to the building of the Brooklyn Bridge, the longest suspension bridge in the world in the late 1800s. It was also the first one to be built with steel cables. The other is Admiral Grace Hopper who was a founding mother in the area of computer science.

Emily Warren Roebling (1843-1903)

According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, (ASCE.org) despite advice she received in her early years about what higher education women did or didn’t need, she studied math and science at a convent school in Washington D.C. Emily Warren Roebling was the wife of Washington Roebling who was a civil engineer and the chief engineer during the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge.

During the construction of the bridge, Washington developed caisson disease (decompression sickness). Fearing the project wouldn’t be completed without her husband’s contributions, Emily began taking notes from her husband on what needed to be done. She took that information to the crew, but she also began to study the technical issues involved in building the bridge. Things about the strength of the materials they used, stress analysis of those materials and the calculations that determined the catenary curves used in the building process. An important part of a bridge built with cables. According to Google:

A catenary is a curve that an idealized hanging chain or cable assumes its own weight when supported only at its ends.

With all of the knowledge she obtained, Roebling became a good stand in for her husband. So good in fact that many believed that she was the intelligence behind the building of the bridge.

Abram Hewitt, a competitor in the steel business said of the Brooklyn Bridge and Roebling,

“An everlasting ,monument to the self-sacrificing devotion of a woman of her capacity for that higher education from which she has been too long disbarred.”

Her contributions in the areas of STEM live on in the Brooklyn Bridge.

Admiral Grace Hopper (1906-1992)

Admiral Grace Hopper was an American computer scienctist and an United States Navy rear admiral.

According to GraceHopper.com, she enjoyed breaking things as a kid, to only put them back together. This was done in an effort to learn how they worked. She earned bachelor and masters degrees in math at Yale University and added a PhD to it. She also double majored in physics. Covering two of the four STEM areas.

She attempted to enlist in the Navy during World War II, but she was deemed too old (34 at the time) so she joined the reserves instead. She started her computer career in 1944 when she worked on the Harvard Mark I project. The Harvard Mark was the first automatic calculator.

Do you know where the term “bug” in the system came from? It was coined by Hopper when a moth infiltrated the circuits of the Harvard Mark I.

In 1949 she went to work for the Eckert-Maulchly Computer Corporation where she worked on the UNIVAC I and developed the linker, which converted English terms into computer language. Most believed that computers could only do arithmetic, well Hopper proved them wrong. Just look at what they can do today.

According to Hopper, the most damaging phrase in language is

“We’ve always done it that way.”

Her contributions in the areas of STEM live on in the computers we use today.

Women Pioneers Make a Difference

If we and the pioneers before us didn’t challenge that phrase, many of the inventions and ideas we have today wouldn’t have never come to fruition.

Women like Emily Warren Roebling and Admiral Grace Hopper show us that people can make things happen. With their skills in STEM, one went on to help build the Brooklyn Bridge, which still stands today in New York City. And the other laid some of the foundation into the technology we use everyday in computers and cell phones.

Want to learn more information about either of these ladies? Follow the links provided in their profiles above.

The Hard Way

Cover design of my first book

Are you looking for a good teen read for yourself or that special teen in your life? Take a look at The Hard Way. It is the first book in The Way Series. It can be found on the books tab of the website.

The Hard Way

Have a good week!

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