Wednesday, October 31, 2012

I'm *Sensing* Some Changes Around Here!

Welcome to the November - December issue of Brainy Girls!  Over the next week or so you'll notice that the content will change - the old stuff will disappear and new stuff will take its place.  Did you miss out on any of the September - October issue?  If you'd like, you can request a pdf of the entire thing and I'll email it to you - just send me a note through the Feedback page (unfortunately, it looks like I can't post files directly to this website).  It's no trouble at all!

You may have noticed that I'm referring to Brainy Girls content as "issues".  This is because I very much consider this website to be an online magazine, with the same type of content that you'd find in a print publication.  We've got articles, we've got interviews, we've got other fun little tidbits!  The only difference is that you don't have to pay for it, and there are no advertisements.  So if you like this online magazine, pass it around to your friends!

You may also have noticed that a few things have changed in this latest issue.  First, there's an "interactive" page where I hope to post things for you to engage with.  Please let me know how you like it - right now, there's a poll for what you'd like to see in future Brainy Girls issues.  Second, I've moved the links and good reads sections to one page, "more, please".  There, you'll find links, books, DVDs, and other things I think you might find interesting.  Next, I now have a "videos" page, where I'll post videos relevant to the current issue's theme.  We also have our own YouTube channel!  You can subscribe to that and see what videos we like.  Additionally, current news will now be featured through Facebook, since it's so easy to find and share there.  So if you haven't "liked" our Facebook page, please do so!  And that leads me to my final point - social media.  It turns out I'm kind of a social media geek, and have gone a little overboard on the social media scene.  But that's ok, it just gives you that many more options to connect with Brainy Girls!  You can find us on Facebook, Google+, Blogger (the "join this site" button on the left side of this page), YouTube and even Pinterest!  Yahoo!  (Well, not, but yahoo, as in yippee!!!)

I'd like to take a moment to reiterate the purpose of Brainy Girls.  There are two main messages that I want to impress upon you:  1) most importantly, be proud of who you are, whoever you are; and 2) be smart!  No matter what "type" of girl you are, you can use your brain.  You don't have to choose between being smart or popular or geeky or pretty - you can be ALL of these things, some of these things, or something else entirely.  It's up to you!  Brainy Girls is here to encourage you to enjoy using your brain!

One last thing...the theme for November and December!  I received a note from a girl named Wallis who was hoping to learn more about the science behind cosmetics and perfume.  I started thinking about fragrance, and then thought about how much we enjoy smelling (crisp winter air, pumpkin pie), tasting (turkey and stuffing, please!), feeling (warm air from the fireplace), hearing (caroling, anyone?) and seeing (brilliant changing leaf colors) the world around us at this time of year.  You see where I'm going with this?  Yes, our new theme is our senses - and I'll take a look at some of the ways they help us navigate our world, for survival, need, and enjoyment.  I hope you enjoy the next couple of months!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Nice to Meet You, Ada Lovelace!

Do you know who Ada Lovelace was?  Shoot - neither did I prior to just a couple of days ago when I learned it was Ada Lovelace Day.  Born in 1815, Augusta Ada Byron (yes, daughter of poet Lord Byron) was an English mathematician and and is now known for her work regarding an early mechanical general-purpose computer, the "analytical engine". Her notes on the engine include what is recognized as the first language processed by a machine; hence, she is considered the world's first computer programmer.  So what is Ada Lovelace Day all about?  This year, Ada Lovelace Day fell on October 16.  The day is all about telling your story of a woman in science, technology, engineering or math who helped make you who you are today.  It's about celebrating brainy girls as role models!  I know that in my career I've looked up to a lot of women, whether they were teachers or professors, or coworkers, or even some of my own relatives.  Who inspired your braininess???

I came across an interesting article that listed a number of women who made significant contributions to the STEM fields.  Considering these accomplishments, why is it, then, that women make up only 25% of those employed in the STEM fields?  Perhaps we need more role models.  Perhaps we need STEM in our girls' daily lives...a regular part of their learning and interests, so that choosing a path towards science, technology, engineering and mathematics isn't so foreign, daunting, or intimidating.

And why should STEM be any of those things to girls?  Check out this TED talk I just stumbled upon - it's about science and play, and how (when you think about it) scientific experiments really are just games.  The talk gets interesting around minute 6 because a young girl is brought in to talk about her class's experiment with bees, which was published in a peer-reviewed journal.  Really amazing!  Let's keep our girls' brains playing for as long as we can!

Meet the Polar Bear Ambassadors!

Did you read the Work It interview with polar bear biologist Susi Miller?  She does a lot of work in a small village called Kaktovik in Alaska.  One of the things she's very involved in is trying to reduce negative polar bear - human interactions: it's all about polar bear safety!  So given all that I had learned about Susi's job, I was pleasantly surprised to see a recent article in the Arctic Sounder about a group of teenagers that are serving as Kaktovik Youth Ambassadors!  These four kids put in a full day at school, then spend extra time talking with tourists and visitors about how to be safe in an area that has a lot of polar bears.  These ambassadors have lived around polar bears their entire lives, so who better to promote polar bear safety?  Read the article to learn more about their work.  Way to go, kiddos!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Sooooo Cool...literally!

Biologist Susi Miller, USFWS, with one
of her study subjects.
I am super excited to announce that Brainy Girls has posted its first "Work It" feature!  I'm so excited, as a matter of fact, that I actually had to leave work a couple hours early so that I could write up the interview I conducted with Susi Miller, Polar Bear Biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  She told me all about her job - what she does, who she works with, how she got there, and the best and worst parts of her work.  Additionally, she has some FANTASTIC advice for any of you young women out there who might be thinking about a career in wildlife biology.  So please take a look at the Work It page and read the interview.  And did I mention pictures?  No?  Well, there are pictures!  You can see for yourself just how hardcore Susi is - and I'll admit that I, for one, am just a little jealous of her job.  Ok, so I don't know if I would do so well in the cold climate, but still - she works with polar bears!  Have you read enough of me talking about the interview yet?  Yes?  Well, stop reading this and head on over to Work It!  Enjoy!

Monday, October 1, 2012


As you'll notice, Brainy Girls has gotten a bit of a makeover.  A bit darker, a bit creepier, a bit more October.  Ahhhh, October.  My favorite month!  Not only is the weather changing - cooling down, leaves turning colors, the smell of autumn in the air, but at the end of the month is my favorite holiday.  Yay Halloween!!!  Any holiday that combines candy and dressing up in costumes is ok in my book.  And since I love candy, and I love costumes, well, me and Halloween are a natural match.  So, you might be seeing some scary things happening at Brainy Girls this month.

But don't let that frighten you off - I've still got lots of interesting things planned for the month of October.  For example, did you know that October 3rd is National Virus Appreciation Day?  Yes, indeed.  You'll hear more about that, well, the day after tomorrow.  And, October 4-10 is World Space Week.  Why does it start in the middle of the week?  I'll tell you all about it.  Plus, in honor of World Space Week, I'll be posting an article on the latest Mars Rover mission, so keep an eye out for that.  Also, I'm particularly excited about our "Work It" feature.  I don't want to reveal it right now, but I've got an interview scheduled for this week...with someone in Alaska!  But that's all the hints you will be'll have to wait until next week to see who I've gotten to talk with!

And for those of you into computers, October happens to be National Cyber Security Awareness Month.  So ratchet up your antivirus settings and avoid those viruses (unless it's October 3, which is Virus Appreciation Day)!  Oh!  And I almost forgot - October is also great because the 29th is National Cat Day!  And cats are awesome, so yay cats!

Happy October - don't forget to stop back soon and see what's new!