Sunday, April 02, 2006

Here's One for the Girls

   Have you seen the ad campaign yet? The campaign is called "Girls Go Tech" and it's being brought out by the Girl Scouts of America. It was precipitated by the lamentable fact that many girls who begin with an active enjoyment in math and science begin to lose it by about the time they're entering grade six. The campaign aims to encourage girls to maintain that interest instead, and go on perhaps to pursue a career in math or science. "Set your sights on math and science.", declare the ads. "It's a great way to see the world."
   Their website is a really great way for girls to see math and science. They're both presented in a context of fun and when you have a chance to view anything as enjoyable, you're much more likely to want to stay with it. Don't get the wrong idea, though. The games offered at the website are not just little time-consumers that babysit kids for a while and leave them with little more than they had to start. There is a game based on cryptography which allows the girls to send "secret messages" to friends if this piques their interest. If art is the basis for a girl's delight, she'll find that in the "Mandala" game which takes her through the wonders of symmetry while she creates her own mandala. If music sparks her creativity, she can compose digital music to her heart's delight with the "Sounds of Science" game. If physiology tickles her fancy, she can explore the different pathways of the brain and learn to play a trick on them, in "Mixed Messages".
   The site gives its users information on careers associated with math and science, and offers tips to parents who find their daughter is either losing ground in these areas, or eager to pursue them. You'll find them in a pdf file titled "Its Her Future: Encourage a Girl in Math, Science and Technology". The booklet begins with the admonition "Relax!" and goes on to reassure parents that they do not need to be a scientist to use the booklet, or help the girl in their life explore and enjoy math, science and technology. It offers a range of activities for a range of ages, and it's a positively great resource. As a teacher and a mother of daughters myself, I would recommend this booklet to absolutely every parent/daughter team, and teacher out there.
   The "Jello Mountain" will help you to investigate geology and taking core samples, while "Blast Off!" will help you and your budding rocket scientist make a rocket and create the chemical reactions needed to fuel it. The list of fun ways to broaden her (and your) horizons goes on and on. Take some time to go to the site and see what it's all about. It may well be some of the very best time investment you'll ever make.


Anonymous said...

I think the games are way too girly. The pdf definitely sounds interesting and worthwhile, but the games look like electronic toys I've seen years ago. All frills and no real brains.
Unfortunately, I would rather have my daughter playing games like Guild Wars. This is not a game about war, but about strategy, achieving objectives and goals, and navigating your way around the world based on points you gain for each task successfully completed. This and other games like it are the evolution of both some war games, strategy and mind problem games, and role-playing games (like Thud!, or role-playing games that have been around since the turn of the century).


Andy Dabydeen said...

V, I think you miss the point about science and math. It puts to task the same parts of the brain; requires the same intellect; and develops the same skills that is generally found in strategy games. That should come as no surprise when you find that the role playing gamers tend to be geeks. In addition to what you get from strategy type games however, science/math teaches, well, science and math. Skills that go beyond the soft, and might actually result in practical, real world impact. Not everyone is going to be a manager; not everyone is going to be a leader. Some people need to have skills to go into a lab, develop something, without being "Bloody Stupid Johnson." (Although BSJ did achieve ... something.)