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Technology

  • GirlSpring.com, STEM, Technology, Woman's History

    Women’s History Month Highlights STEM w/Three Inspiring Engineers!

    Women's History Month Highlights STEM

    Three Inspiring Women Engineers

    In the workforce, only 13% of engineers are women. However, it is an industry that is booming. In the past 5 years there has been a 54% increase in the number of women graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in engineering. When you are deciding what to study in college, engineering is an excellent career choice that is continually moving forward as technology advances. Just consider – you too can follow in the footsteps of some of the most inspiring women in engineering’s history.

    Paige Kassalen

    Paige Kassalen worked on the first ever solar powered plane, Solar Impulse II. She is an electrical engineer that was part of the ground crew. The plane itself flew all the way around the world without using any fossil fuel at all. It is this kind of engineering that will change the world and help the environment. In 2017, Kassalen was listed in Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list, as not only the youngest woman, but the only engineer. To get a career in electrical engineering, you need excellent skills in math and an understanding of how to apply this to the practical world. You can always improve your math skills by taking free courses and using flash cards before college. It could help you on your way to a very inspiring career.

    Katherine Johnson

    Katherine Johnson had a long and prestigious career with NASA, changing the opinions and attitudes of Americans in a very difficult period of history, where segregation was still the norm. As an African American woman, she paved the way for the next generation in engineering, proving that if you study hard, you can achieve greatness despite prejudice. You just need to watch the movie Hidden Figures to understand how important the work that she did was. Johnson calculated launch windows, trajectories and even back-up return paths for so many missions, including the 1969 Apollo 11 mission and Project Mercury. She is proof that if you have enough determination and passion, you can succeed.

    Victoria Drummond MBE

    Victoria Drummond was the very first British marine engineer. She served during WWII in the British Merchant Navy as Chief Engineer. In fact Drummond was even awarded the Lloyd’s War Medal for Bravery at Sea, following her bravery and sheer gumption whilst under fire. She inspired a younger generation of women to aspire to careers in naval engineering – a job that was previously considered to be off limits for women.

    Engineering is a future-proof career choice within so many different industries, from aeronautics to computing. When you are considering college, how about making engineering one of your options?

     

  • GirlSpring.com, STEM, Technology

    We Need More Girls in STEM, and Here’s What we are Doing About it!

    She’s Into STEM!

    A Recap of GirlSpring’s Third Annual STEM Fair

    On February 9, GirlSpring hosted a STEM Fair for girls in grades 6-12 at the Children’s Hospital of Alabama, Bradley Lecture Center inside Children’s Harbor. Girls Inc. of Central Alabama and the American Association of University Women (AAUW) Birmingham Branch co-hosted the event. At 8:30 AM, nearly 100 girls, and their parents began rushing inside from the cold – eager for the day.

    Upon check-in, girls received a goodie bag and an activity requiring them to make a new friend by the end of the day. A Q&A with our panel – featuring successful, Birmingham women in STEM-related careers – kicked off the event.

    Our panel included Dr. Farah Lubin, Neurobiologist; Rupa Kitchens, M.D., Urologist, Urology Centers of Alabama; Claire Datnow, Author and Science Communicator; Mandy Schwarting, Regional Director of Alabama Operations, Spire Energy; Carnetta Davis, Engineer (retired), GirlSpring Board Member, and community leader; Haley Hoppe, Director of Marketing and Communications, Children’s Harbor; M’Kayl Lewis, V.P. Member Services, PackHealth and Tina Simpson, M.D., Adolescent Medicine, Children’s of Alabama.

    Each panelist spoke about her career and what inspired her to enter the world of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). One panelist asked the girls who among them was attending the STEM Fair solely to please her parents. Over half of the girls raised their hand(!). However, by the end of the day – no one wanted to leave.

    The fact that 50 out of the 100 girls in attendance admitted that their parents made them attend the STEM fair is an excellent indicator of the need to have more information and  about STEM career opportunities available to girls, and an indicator of the lack of knowledge about these fields that exists among young girls.

    A study from WeForum.org shows a similar statistic: out of 100 female college students, 12 will graduate with a STEM degree, but only 3 are predicted to continue in the STEM industry during the 10 years after graduation. This illustrates the underrepresentation of women in this field. Forbes.com reports that in 1993, just 21% of Science and Engineering jobs were filled by women, although in the past 25 years this percentage has risen to 28%, which is a bit of good news.

    Although women can account for half of all U.S. jobs, they hold less than 25% of U.S. STEM jobs.

    By exposing young girls to successful women in the world of STEM, we can begin tackling the stereotypes surrounding STEM that girls face from an early age. An article from AAUW.org discusses how sustaining a “Growth Mindset” can benefit girls interested in STEM. The notion that intelligence is static rather than developed may deter girls from exploring their interest in STEM. However, believing in developed intelligence encourages the desire to learn and embrace challenges. When women and girls believe they have a fixed amount of intelligence, they are more likely to disengage when faced with inevitable difficulties.

    After the Q&A, the girls split into groups and set off to explore their curiosities of STEM at each one of our female-lead demonstration booths.

    A few panelists – Dr. Farah Lubin, Rupa Kitchens, M.D., Haley Hoppe, and Claire Datnow – also took part in our demonstration booths. In addition to our panelist demos, we had several volunteer booths: Haifa Al-Harrasi and Callista Cox, UAB MakerSpace; Shreya Malhotra, UAB Neuroscience; Caryn Davis, Girls, Inc.; Sharnice Walker and Whitney Covington, Clinical Laboratory, UAB Emergency Department; and Liucija Smaizyte Wright, Financial Services, Morgan Stanley

    Thanks to our fantastic volunteers, the girls had plenty of learning opportunities. Haifa and Callista from UAB MakerSpace illustrated the process of 3D printing along with discussing its benefits; Shreya Malhotra, who studies Neuroscience at UAB, taught the girls a few things about neurobiology by examining sheep’s brains; Liucija Wright proved to the girls that math really does exist outside the classroom by introducing them to financial budgeting; and Claire Datnow demonstrated her app, NatureFind, which assists in locating places of nature and identifying insects!

    Interactive, career-based events for young girls are great tools for empowerment and positive inspiration. Interacting with different types of women in leadership positions allows young girls to easily picture themselves in these roles.

    We want to change the statistics above.

    Despite the fact that in the last 40 years, 40 percent of STEM degrees were awarded to women – women make up less than 30 percent of the STEM workforce. According to the Association for Women in Science, it requires a minimum of $1 Million to train scientists and engineers at a Ph.D. level. As a nation, we spend a lot on training and education for women in STEM, but we are not utilizing the skills of this well-trained workforce.

    The STEM workforce could improve by increasing the number of women in the talent pool. When women are underrepresented in STEM fields,  there is no female voice in the decision-making process, which is a missed opportunity considering the types of large scale operations that come out of STEM fields that impact our society. One benefit of diversity is that it brings new perspectives. We need more success stories of women breaking down the barriers society has built around us – especially in STEM. Initiatives and programs for young girls are just the beginning!

    GirlSpring, along with our co-hosts Girls Inc. and AAUW, is thrilled to be able to offer a day of STEM activities that get girls excited about STEM fields! For more about this event, check out this article by Claire Datnow of AAUW Birmingham.
    Looking for information on STEM programs for teens in Birmingham? Check out Girls Inc. of Central Alabama’s Teen Eureka Summer Camp Programs
    Tech Birmingham and Innovate Birmingham also offer a number of programs for teen audiences. 
  • Articles, Technology, Woman's History

    Hedy Lamarr: An Unknown Genius

    Hedy Lamarr: An Unknown Genius

    Hedy Lamarr. She was one of the most beautiful Hollywood stars in the 1940’s. She was well recognized for the roles she played in Hollywood hits Algiers and Sampson and Delilah. The fairy tale character Snow White was modeled after her in the 1937 cartoon. Hedy Lamarr was also the inspiration for the comic book character Catwoman. Lamarr’s beauty and glamour definitely did not go unnoticed in the film industry. However, her creative and intelligent mind was hidden from society. Not only was she a talented actress, she held a patent for frequency-hopping technology. This technology is now used for Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. Hedy Lamarr, was born as Hedy Kiesler in Austria in late 1910’s . In the documentary Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story, Lamarr’s son tells of how Hedy took apart her toy music box and then put it back together at a young age. It was obvious she had a knack for inventing. Hedy’s father had helped her find that passion. He was in finance, but was very interested in technology. Furthermore, Hedy lived in a very cultured part of Austria. She would go to the opera, the theater, and she attended a prestigious school.

    Hedy had somewhat of an acting career, acting in small Viennese films. However, when she was on the boat the U.S. Normandie, she encountered Louis B. Mayer. He owned Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, which was the company producing the big Hollywood movies. He offered her to be a Hollywood actress and she complied. In order to ensure a movie-star persona, Mayer gave her the name: Hedy Lamarr. Lamarr did have some trouble finding a movie to star in, when, one night at a party, she met a man named Charles Boyer. Boyer found her captivating and asked her to be in his movie, Algiers. After starring in that movie, she instantly became one of the most popular stars in Hollywood. However, her career did dwindle a little, but she gained success when she starred in Boom Town (1940). After that movie, she was constantly starring in well-known and well-written movies. The 40’s were when Hedy Lamarr’s acting career peaked. She was constantly working and in her free time, she would work on her inventions. She had a relationship with Howard Hughes, who was a famous expert on building planes. She had come up with ideas to help him improve planes he was building. Despite the exciting events that Hedy was a part of, the 40’s were a time of anxiety and turmoil since World War II was going on.

    After a shipload of 293 people sank due to German U-boats, Hedy decided she had to do something. She thought of a solution to combat Nazi submarines and decided a radio-controlled torpedo could solve the problem. This was where her idea of frequency-hopping technology came in. The torpedoes the US used had one transmit frequency communicating, making it easy for the signal to be jammed. Frequency-hopping technology would be able to prevent the jamming of radio signals. With the help of George Antheil, a renowned musician, Hedy come up with an outline to build radio-controlled torpedoes that used frequency-hopping technology. They showed their idea to the National Council of Inventors. One of the inventors, Charles Kettering, transferred them to Professor Sam S. Mackeown, who was a physicist at Caltech. Mackeown. He was responsible for designing the electronics of George and Hedy’s project. When the patent was issued, it was issued to George and Hedy. However, since the Navy was against using the device, George and Hedy did not get money at first. Hedy’s invention was not used until the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. However, at the time Hedy did not get paid. Finally, Hedy got some recognition through Forbes in 1990. By then, her technology was already being used in GPS, Bluetooth, WiFi technology, military satellites, and more. Hedy Lamarr died in 2000, leaving a legacy that will forever be remembered.

    To learn more about Hedy Lamarr’s story, Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story is a great documentary to watch. It is available on Netflix.

    Sources used: Field, Shivaune. “Hedy Lamarr: The Incredible Mind Behind Secure WiFi, GPS And Bluetooth.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 8 Mar. 2018, www.forbes.com/sites/shivaunefield/2018/02/28/hedy-lamarr-the-incredible-mind-behind-secure-wi-fi-gps-bluetooth/#197f105541b7.
    Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story. Dir. Alexandra Dean. Perf. Hedy Lamarr. Zeitgeist Films and Kino Lorber, 2017. Netflix. https://www.netflix.com/title/80189827
    Picture credits: “Hedy Lamarr.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 26 Aug. 2018, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hedy_Lamarr.

  • Technology, Tips

    Best Personal Safety Apps

    Best Personal Safety Apps

    It can be pretty scary if you find yourself alone late at night trying to find your way home or to your car. Thankfully, a whole genre of apps designed to protect its users exist for that very reason. These apps will help you feel safe walking to your car late at night, or during a midnight run to Starbucks, or whenever!

    Circle of 6
    This is a cool app that allows you to input 6 phone numbers that you can easily call or text specific messages to, including your GPS coordinates and the info that you need to be picked up. Or you could send out a message to your six that you need someone to call or text and act as your distraction. It also comes with resources for various topics like domestic abuse or LGBT+ hotlines.

    Check out the app here: https://www.circleof6app.com/

    Watch Over Me
    This app is a lot more streamlined and simple that some of the other apps on this list. You don’t even have to unlock your phone to use it. All you need to do is shake your phone, and it sends an alert to your emergency contacts AND starts using your phone to record the encounter.

    Check out the app here: http://watchovermeapp.com/

    SafeTrek
    This one allows you to alert the police by the simple push of a button. After you press the button, you have the option of in putting a four digit code. If you input the code, the police will not be alerted. If you DON’T input the code within 30 seconds, the police will be alerted. It’s fairly simple, and I like how the developers of the app utilized the aforementioned fail safe function.

    Check out the app here: https://www.safetrekapp.com/

    bSafe
    This incredible app has so many different functions, and it probably one of the better apps on this list. Here is a short list of some of its many features and uses:

    -get a fake call to allow you to get out of threatening situations or conversations
    -send your exact location out to certain preselected numbers to they can know where to pick you up
    -your friends can get alerts about where you are using GPS, and will get alerted once you get home
    -set a timer that will go off on your friends mobile devices if you have not contacted them within a certain time
    -you can activate an SOS button that send your location out to preselected numbers and your device will start recording audio and video in real time so they can see what is happening

    These are just some of the app’s many functions, so be sure to check out all of them on the app’s website: https://getbsafe.com/

    Presence
    This app is a little different from the other ones on the list, and has a very interesting concept. Presence allows you to convert your old unused mobile devices, tablets, or iPods into home security devices. It alerts you if it detects motion in your house. An added bonus is you can set it up so that your family gets these alerts as well.

    Learn more and download Presence here: http://www.presencepro.com/

    Sources
    No, Using a Personal Safety App Doesn’t Make You Paranoid
    https://www.techlicious.com/tip/free-personal-safety-apps/

    7 essential apps that will help keep you safe at night

  • Technology, Tips

    Best Ad block Services / Apps

    Who actually likes having to look at ads on the internet? Probably nobody. This article will talk about some of the best adblock services and apps that will greatly reduce the amount of advertisements that you will encounter on your laptop/ cellphone/ tablet/ ect.

    Adblock Plus- https://adblockplus.org/
    This open source program eliminates banners, pop ups, and a bunch of other stuff you don’t want to see. Another interesting feature is that it doesn’t block “non intrusive ads”, so that you can support websites you enjoy. It works for all sorts of browsers and platforms like Android, Chrome, FireFox, Internet Explorer, and Safari. Best of all, it’s free!

    Adblocker Ultimate- https://adblockultimate.net/
    This program is a little more strict about blocking ads than Adblock Plus since Adblocker Ultimate attempts to remove all ads, even the ones that support the websites you visit. It works for Chrome, FireFox, Opera, Internet Explorer, and Safari.

    Brave- https://brave.com/
    Brave doesn’t depend on extensions to block ads, and it is very simple to download and use. It has a bunch of different settings to play around with so that you can really customize your ad blocking experience. Interestingly enough, it is its own browser, meaning you will have to switch which browser you use to Brave’s. If you are willing to make the switch, this can be a highly efficient and streamlined program.

    1Blocker-https://1blocker.com/
    This app is for iOS products only, and has plenty of awards under its belt. This highly efficient app is very customizable and useful for your everyday browsing.

    HTTPS Everywhere-https://www.eff.org/https-everywhere
    This is an extension that you can download and use for Chrome, FireFox, and Opera. It encrypts your communication with major websites, and is very easy to use.

    Disconnect- https://disconnect.me/
    This program allows you to select the free basic version, or pay more to get more features. The free version works for Chrome, FireFox, Opera, and Safari. Essentially, Disconnect works by letting you visualize and block the websites that track you.

    Ghostery- https://www.ghostery.com/
    Ghostery works for Chrome, FireFox, Opera, and Safari by allowing you to regulate what ads you get and by maximizing your browser’s efficiency.

    uMatrix- https://github.com/gorhill/uMatrix
    This one allows you to filter which websites you want to block ads for, so it does take some time and customization to get working. It works for FireFox, Chrome, and Opera.

    Adblock- https://getadblock.com/
    This one is easily the most popular and probably most used ad block service on this list. You can pay to support the folks that made the program, or not. It’s up to you. Works for Chrome, Safari, Internet Explorer, Opera, and FireFox.

    AdGuard- https://adguard.com/en/welcome.html
    Like a lot of these programs/ services, AdGuard has free versions and versions that you pay for. Can be used on iOS or Android.

    Sources
    https://www.tomsguide.com/us/pictures-story/565-best-adblockers-privacy-extensions.html#s17
    https://www.pcwdld.com/pop-up-and-ad-blocker
    https://www.digitaltrends.com/web/best-ad-blockers-for-chrome/

  • Lifestyle, Misc, Technology

    Social Media: the New Plague

    There is a new disease all around us, and there is no stopping it now. It is contagious yet unnoticed, deadly yet praised, hated yet loved. Unlike the diseases we’ve all born witness to, this one is different. It has the ability to change not only our bodies but how we think as a modern society. It is the biggest epidemic the world has ever seen, affecting over 3 billion people, and is estimated to kill 1.53 million people in the year 2020. Now, this is not a new strand of chicken pox or malaria. It is not something we can hide from or pray away but, by God, it is something to fear. It is intangible but accessible with the click of a screen: Social media.

    Throughout history, humans have always competed and compared with each other. It is the basis of survival. That human phenomenon is what fuels the success of apps like Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook. Naturally, being able to show off what makes us better than the people around us and keep tabs on their lives draws us in. But, just as humans have done to rivers and forests, we’ve taken advantage of it. The point of social media is to skip ahead in time and introduce new technology and connectivity to people around the globe. But in the past 10 years of its reign, social media has brought us farther from positive change than ever. It has created a society where little girls idolize Instagram photos of reality stars like Kim Kardashian and Snapchats of supermodels like Gigi Hadid and think that that is perfection. It has created a society where young boys assume all women should look a certain way or run the risk of being considered ‘ugly’. We have adolescents who have no interest in writing, music, science or math but give all their attention to videos that sexualize men and women, and teach kids that beauty lies only the outside. No wonder over one million children and teenagers commit suicide per year with the causes tied directly to social media.

    Social media was never a place for positivity no matter how many likes or heart eyes we see on our posts. It has defined what’s cool and what’s lame, what’s acceptable and what’s crossing a line, what’s attractive and what’s repulsive. It isn’t just influencing what we like and what we don’t like, it is dictating it. We lend our ears to opinions from ‘Instagram models’ rather than ivy leave scholars because social media has taught us that attention should come from our appearances. More than that, it has given people room to shoot words like bullets under the protection of a pseudonym and has given young kids excuses to experiment with drugs, alcohol, sex, and hate. Social media has made it easy to judge others and difficult to love ourselves.

    Now I am the first to say that social media has taught us a lot. It has taught us cultural literacy and has allowed us to connect to people and events across the globe. But, the cost? Children and teens with anorexia, bulimia, social anxiety, depression, kidnappings, online predators, and an easy way to show prejudice and hate.
    But, unlike diseases in the past, no matter how hard we try, there is no chance to cure it. And we’ve tried. We are at a point where parents are banning their children from having any forms of social media in hopes that their kids won’t succumb to the peer pressure, judgment, and unobtainable standards that come with downloading a couple of free apps and scrolling through a timeline for ten minutes. We’re at a point where people are doing shock therapy to keep themselves away from their social media. We are at a point where teenagers are doing everything from starving themselves to drugs to getting procedures to fit the mold.

    To be honest, I am afraid. I am afraid that we will be the generation that forgets the Pythagorean Theorem, that has no trouble recalling how many likes our most recent Instagram post received. I am afraid that we will grow up not knowing how to do our taxes or raise a family but will know exactly how to filter a selfie perfectly. I am afraid that our goals have changed and our idea of perfection has been skewed.

    There is no real solution to the issue. We can’t create an international ‘No electronics’ day to let people see life through their eyes, not their phones. We can’t ban our kids from downloading Instagram or Snapchat. We can’t report every single inappropriate, negative comment we see. But, we also can’t pretend we don’t see the negative effects social media has had on our society. All we can do is spread positive messages about inclusion on our social media platforms and preach self-love, the importance of education, and try to live our lives outside of our phone screens.

    We decide how we want social media to affect us, not the other way around.