One of the many aspects of GeekGirlCon that sets it apart from other conventions is its commitment to welcoming geeks of all ages. We don’t just tolerate our kid attendees, we design the weekend with their interests in mind. Whether that means keeping our 18+ programming scheduled in the evenings or setting up a kids-only cosplay contest, we’re serious about keeping our evolution reactive to the needs of even the littlest con-goers.
In terms of kids programming, the now-classic GeekGirlCon event we’re proudest of is our DIY Science Zone. This year will mark the Zone’s eighth iteration, with each con bringing bigger and better additions. Part of the reason we’re able to keeping growing and changing when it comes to this special-ist of events is because we’ve got a community that shares our values and knows that accessible science education needs funding.
One of the best moments of my life was when, while sitting in my psychiatrist’s office after having filled out a series of questionnaires, she looked up at me and said, “Well, you have ADHD.”
I was 26. I had graduated from college with honors, was working a full-time job, and led an outwardly stable life. At the same time, I was experiencing debilitating anxiety and depression and struggling to cope. I saw myself as lazy, incompetent, and immature—I had incredibly poor self-discipline, was always forgetting things, and constantly ping-ponged between excitedly volunteering for roles and feeling completely overwhelmed. It seemed like I had to work twice as hard for twice as long to keep up with my peers.
Let’s face it. Embracing technology and being a geek is not something women are “supposed to do”, right?
But, if we believed everything the world told us then maybe we would not know the Earth rotated around the sun (and not vice versa) or that it is not in fact flat. So, it is clear we have to buck the trends to make big things happen. Even today.
That is why I believe that drones are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to encouraging women to get into tech.
How exactly are drones making this happen? Here are three ways I can see drones helping…
As a pop-culture geek, I’m all about the suspension of disbelief. Give me mythical creatures, interdimensional travel, and fireball explosions in the vacuum of space—I prefer creativity to realism. But I also enjoy digging into whether or not fictional realities play by their own rules, and GeekGirlCon ‘17’s “The Science of Wonder Woman” panel did not disappoint.
“The Science of Wonder Woman” was a fantastic discussion of the Wonder Woman film from a scientific perspective. The panelists included astronomer and physics professor Dr. Nicole Gugliucci, forensic chemist and GGC DIY Science Zone project manager Dr. Raychelle Burke, and science writer R.K. Pendergrass.
We’re here! Well, not quite, but with just a few days left until #GGC17, I’m in full-on excited freakout mode, and I hope you are too. We’ve got our schedules, our apps, and we’re ready to have an amazing Con weekend.
If only we could be this calm and collected going into the Con
Over the past few weeks we’ve been giving you a preview of the amazing panels we have coming up, divided into all the themes we geeks are most passionate about. We’ve covered Social Justice, Diversity and Inclusivity, GGC After Dark, Pop Culture, Fandom, and Gaming. But as if all of that wasn’t enough to get you completely psyched for this weekend, let me introduce you to a group of panels that I am personally counting down the hours for: the STEM panels!
The original computers
Did you know that the first computers weren’t wires or blinking lights, but women? From the first computer program to sending men to the moon, women were technological leaders. So why is it so hard to find safe work environments and equal salaries for women in technology? Moderated by Asia al-Massari, the panel From Note G to NASA: Women in Coding and Programming invites you to join self-described lady-coders, Amanda End, Allison Borngesser, and Amy Wibowo, to discover what being a coder is all about!
Bugs are awesome, especially this adorable and efficient ladybug
Whether you’re squeamish around creepy crawlies or a full-on bug fanatic, the panel Different Isn’t Bad: What Bugs Can Teach Us About Being Brave will open your eyes to all the unexpected and amazing things that bugs can teach us. Meet The Bug Chicks, Kristie Riddick and Jessica Honaker, entomologists using bugs to talk about social issues like prejudice, racism, sexism, and feelings of isolation, while simultaneously teaching about insects, spiders, and their relatives. They make videos and talk with young people all over the world, inspiring bravery and open-mindedness. You’re sure to find your inner bugdork here!
Footage of me on my way to the Droid-building panel
Last but certainly not least, the panel Droid Building 101: Make Your Own Astromech!, moderated by Christine Cato, will discuss the methods used by members of the BB-8 Builders Club and Astromech builders club to create their own BB-8 and Astromech droids. The panel will include a brief history of the two clubs, the materials they used to make their droids, and a peek into how to make your own!
I, for one, am extremely ready to learn more about all things coders, bugs, and droids. I hope to see you at these incredible panels, as well as all the others we have scheduled this weekend!
The March in Progress. Image: Regina Barber DeGraaff
The March for Science took place on Earth Day in late April this year. While the main March took place in Washington D.C., there were over 600 satellite marches that took place to support the importance of science is to our health, economies, food security, and safety. One such event took place in Bellingham, WA. I spoke to one of the organizers, Regina Barber DeGraaff, about her involvement in the March for Science in Bellingham, and the importance of science policy and communication.
Hi Regina! Tell me about yourself.
I teach Physics and Astronomy at Western Washington University (WWU). I am also the STEM Inclusion and Outreach Specialist which is a position I created a couple of years ago. The College of Science and Engineering Dean at the time was very supportive of equity and inclusion so she agreed to create my half time position.
I grew up in Lynden, WA which is just south of the Canadian border in the top right tip of Washington State. I spent my summers in San Diego, CA and attended WWU as an undergrad. After completing a MS in Physics at San Diego State University, I finished my PhD in Physics at Washington State University in 2011 with a focus on Globular Clusters using Hubble Space Telescope images. I have taught at a high school & two community colleges. Being a women of color in STEM, my experience as a community college student in running start and teaching at various institutions is the source of my unique perspective when it comes to inclusion in STEM.
I am also very passionate about science communication. I host and produce Spark Science which is on its 3rd Season. The goal of the show is to make science accessible by confronting the scientist stereotype.
By Samantha Lee Donaldson, a guest writer for GeekGirlCon
In 1992, only 21% of individuals coming from families with annual incomes of $25,000 or less qualified for admission to a four-year university, and only . 8% were minority graduates. Unfortunately, the numbers have not changed nearly enough in the last decade. However, with a significant increase in female college enrollment since the 1970s and the rise of women in technology, the ability to teach skills to students from low-income neighborhoods then can be utilized to help them succeed in life on a much larger scale is extremely enticing.
Therefore, when Eben Upton and a group of his colleagues at the University of Cambridge decided to create a cheap and efficient computer that could be used to show children the power of code and computer technology, the game was changed forever. Thus, the Raspberry Pi was born.
By Samantha Lee Donaldson, a guest writer for GeekGirlCon
For many students across the globe coming from low-income households, trade school courses are their life, from the first day of kindergarten to their last day of high school. The skills gap remains a global problem even now. Instead, if these students were given the ability to learn more than the basics which allow them to only receive low-wage professions, they could reverse this trend and help create an economy that reflects a growing parity in no time.
Just as doctors must take the Hippocratic oath, educators are asked to take the educator’s oath. This oath says, “I promise to seek and support policies that promote quality in teaching and learning and to provide all engaged in education the opportunity to achieve excellence.” Despite this, children who come from low-income households are often neglected and the low-income schools they attend are seldom given the amenities necessary to train these children to change the world and their lives, even though studies suggest that the key to power in the workplace is education, especially for women. Therefore, when these children are provided with sub-par education, they are ultimately set up for failure from the start and not given the tools necessary to achieve their goals in life.
“I think Kitty’s summer is kicking everyone else’s summers butt!” this statement on my Facebook page accompanied a picture of my nine year old daughter proudly standing by the door to a conference room at PopCap Games’ corporate offices. Kitty was getting ready to start her second week of Girls Make Games, a game design camp. Our friends and family followed along enthusiastically on social media as I posted daily updates of her camp adventures.
Girls Make Games is a three week camp that was held in July at 24 locations around the world. During the camp the participants learned about different career options in the gaming industry, met people working in the field, and toured game studios. In the three weeks they attended camp they also wrote, designed and developed a playable game.
Written by GeekGirlCon Copywriter Sarah “SG-1” Grant
I don’t drive a lot anymore, which I’m finding very strange; I’ve been driving since I was 16, and had constant use of a car from the time I was 17 (with some exception during my first couple of years living on campus in college). About a year ago, my roommate/best friend got a much better job than the one I had, and it required the use of a car. So I put him on my insurance, and I got a bus pass through work. Since then, I drive the car perhaps once or twice per week, either to church in Kirkland or to the grocery store down the street (if I need more than I can comfortably carry up ten blocks of a very big hill).
I’ve discovered that I really enjoy riding the bus to work. All I have to do is show up at my bus stops on time, get on the correct bus, and get to work, get home, or get wherever else I’m going. All that riding time means I don’t have to pay attention to awful Seattle traffic, and I get to do the thing I love more than anything else: READ. If I don’t feel like reading, I just listen music on my phone. It takes the length of about a 50-60 minute album for me to get to work. It’s lovely sort of meditative time that I get to take for myself, and I don’t answer the phone in that time. I’ve grown to value it quite a bit.
I got my first car when I was in high school, one that I shared with my older brother, and used to run errands and ferry my younger sister around our hometown. It was a 1981 Chevrolet Chevette–no, not a Corvette, a Chevette, like this one, only a darker blue:
The front passenger seat had a disconcerting habit of flipping back, thereby introducing the front seat passenger abruptly to the back seat. We couldn’t do an under-body flush at the car wash, because there was a hole in the floor beneath the driver’s seat. Top speed uphill with anyone other than the driver in the car? 43 miles per hour. It shook like it was losing bolts anytime we approached 55 miles per hour. The radio only received the signal from the Milwaukee oldies station–and then only the music, not the lyrics. I loved that car.
My next car was a 1991 Oldsmobile Cutlass Calais, purchased from its original owner in 1996 (again, a darker blue than this one):
It was a good little car, driving me back and forth from Wisconsin to Tennessee multiple times. It was replaced by a 1999 Saturn S series in Silver Plum (the dealer was VERY specific about the color, even though I called it “purple”)–the first car I ever bought at a dealership:
I loved that little car so much: it had good gas mileage, it was comfortable, it had a very respectable trunk space, and it saw me safely through a five-car pileup in Nashville. It was fixed, and ran like a top for another two and a half years before I sold it. I bought my first brand new car, my current 2005 Honda Civic, from a dealer in Milwaukee before I moved to Seattle:
It’s a fantastic car; it drives well, it parks easily (not too big, not too small), and it has the two things I told my dad I wanted at the time: a CD player and air conditioning. It also survived this little incident (with me driving) back in May:
It was a rough Monday morning…
This is the car my roommate drives, and is the one I am now selling to him. And yes, we fixed the windshield.
I know that a lot of people don’t have cars, or have never had cars; I’m very aware of the privileges I’ve had in my life. I also know I’m lucky I live in an area with pretty good bus service, and that my company provides my bus pass every month. So while I went green out of necessity, it’s been a pretty positive change for me. I’m healthier from walking, I spend more time outside–which I’ve been told is good for people with depression. I also feel like I’m contributing to the success of our public transportation system, relieving a tiny bit of the nasty traffic in Seattle, and leaving my own mark on the world-wide effort to reduce climate change. Every little bit helps!
Would you switch to bus riding, if you could or had to? Let me know in the comments; I’ve love to hear your perspective!