Thursday, January 20, 2011

Science Topics on BBC Women's Hour

BBC Women's Hour - Listen again
2011 is the International year of Chemistry - If girls do better than boys at A level Chemistry, why don't more young girls dream of a truly exhilarating career in science. How can we change this? Dr Patricia Fara, a science historian from Clare College Cambridge discusses.
Discussion starts at 34 minutes 20 seconds -

American equal rights campaigner, Sylvia Ann Hewlett says that evidence gathered across Europe suggests that offering women a lengthy absence from work harms their career.
Discussion starts at 24 minutes 20 seconds -

(taken from UKRC GetSET Women News)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Bedtime story book: Earth to Stella

 Bedtime reading has an important role in our life, and we're frequent visitors to our local library to increase the diversity of the books we read. I'm naturally attracted to kids books about space, and so we read quite a few. Anyway to cut a long story short, I thought it would be nice to review some of them.

Right now we're reading "Earth to Stella" by Simon Puttock and Phillip Hopman (Amazon UK link, Amazon USA link). I don't intend to provide an exhaustive review, but here's list of my likes and dislikes:


1. The main character is a girl. Having a (imaginary) space adventure. That's unusual - and you won't be surprised that I like it. The picture of Stella in her bedroom shows this is no passing interest either - she has a lot of space toys in her room.

2. The relationship between the girl and her father comes across as genuine and loving. He joins in her imaginary adventure providing messages from "Earth to Stella"

3. I love that her bouncing on the moon ends with "Earth to Stella: no jumping on the bed". It's just cute.

3. There's real scientific information about what the stars look like close up, and that they have different colours.


1. A comet is described as "zooming past with a fiery tail" (and on the page after the correct description of stars). OK this is an imaginary space flight, but I think that's a missed chance to stick in a bit more real science.

2. The bug aliens are a bit weird. Again it's imaginary, but where do they come from?

In summary I mostly like this one, and it does have some real scientific information.

In researching this post (OK by Googling "Earth to Stella"!) I found this list of reviews of children's books by the (US) National Space Society. Looks like a useful resource.

What can men do to help?

While I'm here, looks like the AAS women's session happened yesterday. I found this nice summary over at "Rocket Scientista" of the discussion which focussed on one of my favourite topics: "What can men do to help?".

While I think the experience for men of being in the minority at the womens sessions may be an eye opener for them at how much you notice being just one of a small number of your gender in a room (and I wish more of them would come and experience it), I would love for those meetings to be more representative, as (like Rocket Scientista) I don't think anything is going to change until more men care about the problem too.

Elementary Parenting

A nice post over at the AAS Women in Astronomy Blog by Hannah discussing how much easier parenting is when your kids are elementary school aged: "Elementary Parenting".

This is nice to hear. My oldest will start school in September, and while we'll have a little one in the house for quite some time to come (since the youngest is still just 10 months old), it's nice to know an easier life may be around the corner.

To be honest from this side though school looks more complicated than preschool: we'll have to get her there on time every day. We'll need to sort out after school care, and something different for all the many holidays. I'm sure we'll sort it out, and this might just be fear of the unknown, but it certainly looks more complicated. And I don't think the cost savings will be huge (from the UK) since we get quite a big subsidy for the over 3s already (15 hours free care during the school year). For us it was that transition which made a big difference to our pockets.