Friday, December 2, 2016

Making Friends with Technology

Preteen girls can now learn programming from plastic bracelets.

These bracelets, adorned with a flower, assist girls in developing technical skills, as well as interacting with each other socially. This type of jewelry is unique as it promotes both programming and physical contact between its users, which goes against the reoccurring theme that technology isolates people. In order for the bracelet to work to its full potential, girls must download the Jewelbot app on their mobile device to customize the colored light notifications. When a friend also wearing a Jewelbot is nearby, both light up in relation to which color each girl assigned that specific person. If all the girls meet wearing their bracelet, each one is illuminated in a rainbow of colors.

However, this trend extends farther than being the source to find friends with similar interests. Girls can program their bracelets to glow when they receive messages from their individual social media accounts (such as blue for Facebook), updates to parents, as well as personalized reminders for day-to-day actions.

Fashion and function are the two key parts of Jewelbots, created by Sara Chipps, Brooke Moreland and Maria Paula Saba. Chipps is a co-founder of Girl Develop it, a nonprofit that teaches coding to women, Moreland is an entrepreneur specializing in technical fashion and Saba currently studies Bluetooth after graduating from NYU's Interactive Telecommunications Program. Altogether, Jewelbots encourages girls to be involved with technology and be inspired by each other's eye-catching jewelry. It is a great way to integrate fashion without superficiality to girls coming-of-age and learning that technology isn't characterized by "nerdy" stereotypes.

Grace Hopper: The Woman Who Did It All

   Determination, creativity and bravery are three traits that Grace Hopper possessed during her lifetime. Her interest in math and physics, which she later studied at Vassar College, began as a child, when she was curious how alarm clocks worked. Her analytic, exploratory nature led her to earn a Master's degree and Ph.D. in mathematics at Yale. As one of the first women to earn such a degree, she also continued to teach at Vassar College until she decided to join the U.S. Naval Reserve in 1943, participating in WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service). 

   During World War II, her skills in mathematics were in high demand as she learned to program a Mark I computer at Harvard. After the war ended, she discovered that a moth had infiltrated the Mark II computer and turned it off, popularizing the term "computer bug." In 1949, she supervised programming for the UNIVAC computer and later on, her team became the first to create the "A compiler" for computer language (code). At age 60, she was called back into Naval service because of her technical acuity in programming language and became a rear admiral before retiring completely in 1986. As a workaholic and success in her field, she continued computer work until her death in 1992, at age 85. 

   Overall, Grace Hopper dedicated her time and intelligence to essentially create a new, universal language used in computers. She was awarded the National Medal of Technology, besides 40 honorary degrees from various universities. Organizations and programs to honor her legacy were created, such as the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing Conference, aside from the Grace Murray Hopper Award. Women such as Grace are defining figures in the world of computer science and how people are able to communicate with each other via technology. 

A Lego created on Etsy to commemorate Dr. Grace
Hopper's outstanding achievements