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This week's feature

My Teen Idol is Marie Curie

Christmas is right around the corner. There’s a nip to the air and a buzz of festive activity. Many are in the midst of that yuletide conundrum: choosing gifts for loved ones. Seems simple, but selecting a present is a big deal. After all, a gift is something you ponder, it’s a reflection of you, the expression of your desire to make someone happy. “The social value of giving has been recognized throughout human history,” affirms the author of this New York Times article.

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So for issue number 78 “My Teen Idol is Ada Lovelace”, Orange Pop takes the reins (Ho, ho, ho! Now Dasher, now Dancer…). Stumped for ideas for all those little girls, nieces, sisters, and daughters on your list? Why not give them a gift that will spark their love of science? Let’s sow the seeds of a whole generation of great women scientists:

  1. NASA’s women scientists are space’s rock stars
  2. Who plays with what in your Christmas catalog?
  3. 3 questions to Marie Paindavoine, PhD candidate in cryptology for Orange Labs
  4. Doc McStuffins is on call for all your stuffed animals’ aches and pains
  5. How to get your kids to memorize the Periodic Table?
  6. Ellen Kooijman, the researcher who’s trying to drag Lego into the 21st century
  7. TOP 5 best science toys of all time

Fasten your seatbelts, destination pop culture!

As Michelle Obama famously said:

Young people, particularly our girls, need to understand that doctors and scientists are something that anyone can become.

NASA’s women scientists are space’s rock stars

Music - December 07, 2016

It’s official: NASA has hung out the “HELP WANTED” sign and they want female applicants. That’s right, the American space agency is looking for women candidates to fill its top science jobs. As one of NASA’s top brass recently declared, “For the missions of the future, the agency is going to need all the expertise and ingenuity the next generation of explorers and dreamers can muster.” That’s why the agency hired singer and virtuoso instrumentalist Grace Potter to inspire a whole new generation of women scientists still in pigtails and Keds.

She released a video entitled ‘Look What We’ve’ Become from the CD Midnight especially for the occasion. What really sets the clip apart is that is was shot at the Johnson Space Center. It features NASA’s women, engineers and astronauts as well as legends like world-famous mathematician Katherine Johnson, one of the first African-American women in elite science. The singer has a lot of fun at the end of the clip playing with Robonaut, the agency’s humanoid robot.

It’s all about sending the (musical) message that women are just as welcome as men in science’s hallowed halls. NASA’s new motto? How about Look What We’ve Become,or why not Run the World Universe (Girls)

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Who plays with what in your Christmas catalog?

The infographic - December 07, 2016

Toys are really for all kids, but our Christmas catalogs are still gender-targeting our children. The stats on toys are telling:

ELSEWHERE ON ORANGE POP

Infographic: 7 female coders who’ve made their mark

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3 questions to Marie Paindavoine, PhD candidate in cryptology for Orange Labs

The 3 questions - December 07, 2016

Specialist in cryptology (keeping information secret from prying eyes and ears) Marie Paindavoine is a talented scientist, and she, for one, thinks microscopes are cooler than Barbie dolls!

Orange Pop: Do you see any change in attitudes towards women in the field of science?

Marie Paindavoine: I think there’s less discrimination against women than there used to be, but there’s still a lot of inequality. In my lab, men outnumber women, which is weird because the gender mix for science PhD students is about 50-50. Some of the age-old prejudices still hold, though I don’t see that much of it in my work environment. Over the course of my career, I’ve heard sexist remarks here and there, but don’t see that much bald gender discrimination of the girls-can’t-handle-the-math variety.

O. Pop: How do we get girls interested in science and how do we get them to see science as a career for them?

MP: When I was a junior in high school and chose science as my concentration, I found myself in classes with way more boys than girls, about 4 or 5 girls in a class of 35. And while the discrimination may not have been explicitly condoned, the educational system reinforces the structural message that science isn’t for girls. We need to heighten awareness of the problem and get teachers at all levels to present science as a gender-neutral discipline. Men have got to pitch in, too. Girls have to be told to disregard this kind of lame outdated sexism, and boys need to be taught to take girls interested in science seriously. Schools need to revamp their MOs for both girls and boys.

O. Pop: What do you think of the scientific toys and games out there?

MP: Unfortunately, they’re almost always aimed at boys. I’ve a funny Christmas story: my mother was a journalist, and her works committee gave gifts to their employees’ kids. I always wanted a present from the boys’ catalogue because that’s where the robots, microscopes, and other interesting toys were. The girls’ catalogue was full of dolls… Frankly, a microscope beats a Barbie any day!

marie-paindavoine-cryptologie-docteur-orange-labs-scientifique-femme

© Marie Paindavoine, PhD student in cryptology at Orange Labs

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Doc McStuffins is on call for all your stuffed animals’ aches and pains

A picture says it all - December 07, 2016

Remember that veterinarian doll you see in shop windows every Christmas?

Launched by Disney in 2012, the junior pet vet is a little Afro-American girl who cures all her sick stuffed animals, just like her doctor mom cures her patients. Inspired by the eponymous cartoon, Doctor McStuffins has become a planetary idol, offering girls a scientist role model and allowing them to envisage themselves pursuing scientific careers. A group of 131 African-American researchers got together to back pet vet McStuffins, seeing the show as an example of positive mentoring.

Look out, Barbie, you may be headed for early retirement!

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How to get your kids to memorize the Periodic Table?

The killer question - December 07, 2016

Generations of high schoolers have gone bonkers trying to memorize that ★% Periodic Table! Well, American mom Karyn Tripp came up with a great method for committing all those pesky elements and their symbols to memory. What’s her secret? She took two of them, glued them together, and got her kids to play Battleship with the Periodic Table as the sea grid. Have fun and learn all the known elements of the universe!

Yet another triumph for the kids-play-kids-learn school of thought. Wish she’d thought of it while I was in high school.

teableau-mendeleiev-jeu-enfant-education-sciences

Uranium. You sank my battleship! © teachbesideme.com

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Ellen Kooijman, the researcher who’s trying to drag Lego into the 21st century

Who's who - December 07, 2016

Sometimes you gotta listen to your fans. Lego did when it heeded the advice of geochemist Ellen Kooijman. In 2012 she remarked that the famous Danish toy company’s scientist figurines were all men. The educational message Lego was sending kids was that women can’t do science.

So Ellen submitted some prototypes of women scientists to Lego’s electronic suggestion box, Lego Ideas, a platform that solicits new kit ideas from fans. Her proposal garnered over 10,000 signatures and her idea was taken up by Lego’s R&D team.

Nice work, Ellen! Now let’s push for an Ada Lovelace figurine.;)

ellen-koojiman-lego-femmes-scientifiques-jouet-womeninscience

Lego whiz Ellen Kooijman at her day job © jaysbrickblog.com

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Fact of Fiction: Can Legos turn your rug rat into a scientific genius?

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TOP 5 best science toys of all time

Gimme 5 - December 07, 2016

1. Operation: Created in 1965 by the American John Spinello, this hilarious game is all about surgery. You remember the patient laid out on the operating table, the tweezers, and the BZZZZZ, when junior surgeon flubs the operation!

docteur-maboule-jeu-femmes-scientifiques

Operation © Hasbro.com

2. The microscope: THE classic. This old-school toy never goes out of style. How many carefree days have we all wiled away, ogling at huge teeny tiny things?

microscope-femme-scientifiques-jeux-education

The humble microscope © jouet-direct.com

3. The globe bedside lamp: Masquerading as a utilitarian lamp, this toy is a favorite and an incredibly efficient scientific aide. Your arm-chair traveling daughter will end up a geography whiz.

2-in-1-globe-earth-by-day-earth-by-night-3270-p

The globe © Amazon

4. The fossil kit: Generations of backyard paleontologists got their start with a fossil kit for kids 6 to 15. And what parent hasn’t said, “I think it’s a T-rex tooth!”

kit-fossile-jeux-enfant-science-education-femme

Livin’ in the Jurassic © stemfinity.com

5. The ant farm: And how many biologists got their start staring at those little insects burrowing away between two sheets of glass? One tip, though: wait for junior to turn eight. Otherwise you might find your home invaded by her little arthropods.

fourmilliere-jeux-education-femmes-scientifiques

Ant farm © Insectlore.com

 

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TOP 5 YouTuber profs (feminine division)

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Dear Santa, we want a Lottie Doll under the Xmas tree!

Stories - December 07, 2016

Forget Barbie, let’s switch to Lottie Doll for next Xmas! If you want an educational toy, you will definitely like this model. Indeed, Lottie Doll has one passion: sciences. She can do research, analyze fossils and program a robot. Last but not least, she spent 264 days aboard the International Space Station! Quite impressive, right? 😉

During the Tomorrow’s Engineers Week in November, the members of the WES Council, a network of women engineers, posted photos on Instagram of Lottie doing everyday engineering work. They aim at disrupting gender stereotypes and inspiring girls to become engineers. Playing with Lottie Doll can actually encourage girls to learn more about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math)!

Arklu, the producer of the doll, has recently released a special edition named “Stargazer” in partnership with the European Space Agency. She was also designed by Abigail, a six-year old Lottie fan. Forget the pink dress and slippers, the doll wears a dark blue velvet bomber jacket with brown boots. In addition, she has her own telescope and the necessary equipment. We can’t wait to explore the beautiful sky on Xmas night with her J #WomeninSTEM

Good news, she has been nominated in #toyoftheyear2017 Awards. If you want Lottie Doll to be the best toy, you can vote here.

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With “Technology will save us”, a new generation of engineer girls is under way

Stories - December 08, 2016

Are you looking for tech toys that will be easy-to-use and fun? Good news: there are plenty of games for girls to learn science while having a great time!

One of the best ones is a family craft pack, launched by Technology will save us, mixing arts & craft and tech. Its funder is a woman, Bethany Koby, who aims at offering “make it yourself kits” and digital toys to help girls to learn science, no matter their age or their experience. She truly thinks that game and tech can empower girls and their families. And whatever their interests, there is something for every taste here!

For instance, the electro dough –luxe is a game to create sculptures by using a brand-new electronic dough. Little girls will be able to create scenes and sculptures by using dough, and to bring them to life with light and sound.

Besides, there’s the Gamer kit, which enables girls to learn about electronics and technology by soldering and assembling all the parts on their own. Then, the children will have to code some little programs to bring their inventions to life, like creating their own version of Flappy Bird, or a revived Snake game!

And for the budding musicians, they’ll finally have the chance to build their own synthesizer and even invent a musical masterpiece with the Synth Kit !

If they’re fond of informatics, check out micro:bot pack, the coolest and yet simplest robot for kids! They’ll be able to learn to build and code 3 different types of toy robots, then use their new creative skills to invent any bot they can possibly imagine! It reminds us of robots that teach programming 😉

This manual game proves that, yes, girls can do anything with tech! 🙂

techwillsaveus_family_pack

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Girls: Become a future inventor with LittleBits!

Stories - December 09, 2016

We’ve all played with Lego Bricks once in our life (if not, you can sue your parents). But did you know that you can actually use special bricks to learn the basis of engineering?

This is the dream come true of Ayah Bdeir, a woman who learnt how to code when she was 12 while other girls played with dolls. She funded her startup, named Littlebits, a platform to build some models and learn with electronics, empowering kids to create inventions of every shape and size. No experience is required; they just have to use a step-by-step guidebook to get started with 8 easy-to-make and really funny inventions. Another very interesting thing to notice: even girls can have a great time while becoming a future engineer!

The only limit is their imagination: they can invent a spin roller, a doodle wizard, make shoes with flashing laces and even program music (among others)! With this brand new concept, Ayah Bdeir proves that technology enables kids, boys AND girls, to be more than consumers, and become inventors! 😉

Disney and LittleBits are working together to engage kids in STEM and inspire the next generation of inventors. They intend to produce a brand new online video series about invention. In addition, they launched a new game/accessory inspired from the Disney movie Big Hero 6. The kids can build a moving arm featuring a rocket fist just like the one Baymax has got in the movie!

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Goldieblox, the construction game for girls

Stories - December 12, 2016

Xmas is coming and you’re still looking for some unusual yet awesome presents for girls? Why wouldn’t you introduce them to construction games? Playing with construction toys can develop great skills like imagination, dexterity, etc. And now, girls have their own construction game with Goldieblox, designed to develop their interest in engineering. Girls can conceive a spinning machine, an invention mansion… The success of the startup is growing: GoldieBlox has over 1 million app downloads and over 1 million toys sold across the world!

The CEO of the startup, Debbie Sterling, aims at challenging gender stereotypes with the world’s first girl engineer character named Goldie- the effigy of the game. Disappointed when she discovered the lack of women in engineering, Debbie wanted to encourage girls to turn into STEM by launching new toys in 2012. According to her, creative toys can encourage girls to develop STEM and science skills. So girls, it’s up to you to spark your imagination! 😉 #girlpower

Waffle break with Milla and the Invention Mansion! #getbuilding 📸: @smashley11

A photo posted by GoldieBlox (@goldieblox) on

 

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At last Barbie looks like an engineer too!

Stories - December 13, 2016

Even if we really have a cruch for Lottie, we cannot end this issue without mentioning the most-popular doll of all time, aka Barbie.

Flight attendant, teacher, princess… Barbie has done almost everything in her life, proving she’s not only interested in fashion and parties. And now, the doll star is also an engineer!

Indeed, the toymaker Mattel has produced a special STEM kit in partnership with the science kit maker Thames and Kosmos. This special kit features 122 plastic building pieces, an illustrated book to help the children throughout experiments. At last, you will also find the doll Barbie, along with her friend Niki! You can build a variety of things from a hammock to a washing machine, compatible with Barbie’s dreamhouse. And it’s quite great: as you build the models, you develop engineering skills!

This STEM doll is not the first Barbie scientist. In 2015, Mattel launched Computer Engineer Barbie, then, Developer Barbie in 2016 in a Career range. For sure, the firm, which is often criticized, was inspired by other toymakers to offer more role models to girls in a marketing approach. But when you know how girls all over the world still expect having a Barbie when Santa comes, you can’t help but applaud! #clapclap

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See you next week!

To be continued - December 07, 2016

Next week, let’s celebrate the kitsch of Xmas with the pop culture icons 😛

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