So do you think Ada Lovelace would have been an Ubuntu or a Fedora?
March 24th marked Ada Lovelace Day. For those of you not in the know, Ada Lovelace Day celebrates women who contribute to technology and science. Ada herself worked with Charles Babbage (of the mall-based video game store??), constructing the programming language for his analytical engine, thought to be one of the first mechanical computers. Oh, and all this happened in the early 1800s!! She was also the daughter of Lord Byron, the famous poet. Pretty good lineage, poet father and employee of a video game store owner.
So the good people of the internet decided to celebrate the contributions of all women by using Lovelace as their centerpiece. All over the world, people blogged about, Facebooked about, create videos about, and signed pledges about women in tech and science and how we can encourage them to continue to add to all the projects out there. As the father of 5 and 3 year old girls, I definitely want to make sure I push them both in the areas of technology and science. I do not want to place any artificial barriers in their way, and will work with them to remove any existing barriers. In the classroom I worked hard on this as well, encouraging girls to take my web design magnet electives, placing them in leadership roles, and just encouraging them to do their best.
Lots of great resources are available on the web to help support this as well. The first that comes to mind is Carnegie Mellon’s Alice programming language. I reviewed this in this blog and truly believe in this project. The premise of the project, to interest middle schoolers to follow up with more computer programming courses, provides an intuitive language that can serve as an initial taste of programming. What I like about Alice, came from some teachers in a County I first discovered it. They mentioned that interest among all genders was high in the after school program they developed, focusing mainly on Alice. The boys, they shared, mainly developed shoot-em-up games. The girls, she noted, spent much of their time developing driving games and those games that could be used for a variety of other purposes. Many were things such as virtual tours, simulations, and other real world applicable games. I think that definitely highlights the reason why we so desperately need both girls and boys, men and women in technology and science. I think we have come far as humans, but with all providing feedback and ideas, we can go even further.