If you want to help your kids or grandkids learn more history about interesting ways that women contributed to saving lives during World War II, look no farther than Top Secret Rosies, a PBS video that tells the story of the women who were a part of a secret project to figure our mathematically various trajectories of weapons during the war. Called female computers — that is people who compute — these women were recruited from all over the country to go to Philadelphia and work in secrecy at a special lab set up just for them.
With so many STEM-in-the-curriculum (STEM is short for science, technology, engineering, and math) discussions and the urgency to encourage 21st Century girls and young women to take more interest in science, math, and technology, it’s exciting to discover a resource that shares a story about women and their amazing mathematical achievements. Top Secret Rosies is a one-hour documentary, produced by LeAnn Erickson, a professor at Temple University tells the story.
People — young and old — enjoy learning about the first computer in the United States, ENIAC, booted up in 1946. Every 21st Century learner needs to know about this amazing machine and the story of the first programmers.
A few weeks ago I visited Philadelphia and had a special opportunity to visit ENIAC. This huge, old-fashioned computer isowned by the Smithsonian Institution (read this article), but parts of it are still housed in a building at the University of Pennsylvania, almost exactly where it was originally set up. ENIAC could be programmed to do extensive calculations much faster than humans could calculate.
The letters in ENIAC stand for Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer. Continue reading →