I was never interested in math until college pre-calc, the very first time I saw it having any practical application. I was going to be a writer or an artist; what did I need algebra for? I often wonder whether I would have taken more of an interest if someone could have shown me women using math in the real world to do things like engineering or astrophysics. Science was always wonderfully interesting to me, but somewhere between junior high and high school, I was convinced that I was bad at math, and therefore would be limited in the sciences, so I focused on my strengths in art and literature. However, I always had a fascination with finding out how things worked, and I think that's why I ended up majoring in ceramics, rather than painting. I feel like it's about the nerdiest art technique you can do; it involves creative problem solving, mechanical engineering, ergonomics, and chemistry just for a start. I was surprised to find that quite a number of professional engineers take up pottery as a hobby, because it seems to fit their skill set and the way their brains work.
When I sit my students down at the wheel, I like to tell them to treat throwing like an experiment. How much force does it take to center the clay on the wheel? What body position gives you the most leverage on the clay with the least amount of effort? What happens when you try to manipulate the clay in different ways? If I want to make a specific form, what is the best way to go about that? If this technique doesn't work, what else can I try? There are no mistakes, just experiments. It's fun to approach a creative activity with curiosity, rather than a desire to make something pretty and perfect. I've been pretty inspired by having a baby, actually. Everything kids do to learn about the world is basically the scientific method; I approach teaching and making the same way.
Here are a few awesome things that I love that are making the world better for girls and women in one way or another, and that are geeky, or math and science minded. I thought I'd share them with you.
"Wollstonecraft - A Snicketesque girl-power adventure featuring Ada Lovelace and Mary Shelley at 11 and 14 in 1826 London, for ages 8-12"
This project has already been fully funded (and wow, was it ever successful!), but it's so cool, I have to share it. The bit that gets me pumped is this:
"This is a pro-math, pro-science, pro-history and pro-literature adventure novel for and about girls, who use their education to solve problems and catch a jewel thief."
I cannot wait to see these books come out, read them myself, and share them with Maddy as soon as she's old enough to enjoy them!
"MOLLY DANGER - The world's most powerful 10 year old superhero is comic book superstar Jamal Igle's new creator owned graphic album series."
I know I shouldn't be promoting other Kickstarters when mine is still going, but I really love this, and I want it to succeed! Jamal is a successful and talented comic book artist who has worked on some major books for Marvel and DC. He is also the father of a little girl, and he's working on this book with a young girl protagonist who is, in his words "the most powerful girl in the world, but also the loneliest". I love that a professional in this male dominated industry is making an effort to change the industry for the better, and tell a new kind of story that the major comic companies probably wouldn't touch. I wish you the best, Jamal!
Finally, one of my backers is a programmer, and is planning to teach his daughter programming as she grows, so she can make awesome games too! He sent me a link to a programming language called Scratch, which is a visually based programming language that is easy enough for kids to learn and use. When Maddy gets a bit older, I'm looking forward to sitting down with her and trying to learn it together.
Do you have a geeky or girl power project to share? Post it in the comments! The more people out there doing inspiring things for girls, the better, and I want to know about them! What projects are inspiring you?