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Trailblazers


found in: science; social studies; 3-5; 6-8

Rachel Swaby’s Trailblazers: 33 Women In Science Who Changed The World (2016, 195 pgs), a collection of profiles for students in grades 5-8, highlights the work of women scientists in technology, astronomy, medicine, and biology. A notes section and bibliography are provided, as well as an index. About a third of the figures are familiar, others, like Virginia Apgar (1909-1974), may not be, even though they left a permanent mark in a field. Apgar was an anesthesiologist who devised a ten-point scale (Apgar score) to assess the health of newborns.

Four of the scientists included in the book are highlighted below and activities related to their work are suggested.

Hertha Ayrton (1854-1923) was a British physicist and inventor. She developed quieter and consistent arc lighting and invented a device to protect soldiers in the trenches of World War I from poison gas.

Lend A Hand: Teaching Forces  In groups of three, students design, build, and test hand “gripper” prototypes that can grasp and lift a 200 ml cup of sand.

Emmy Noether (1882-1935) was a brilliant German mathematician and passionate teacher who helped Einstein develop the mathematical equations of his general theory of relativity. He wrote of Noether “…it is really through her that I have become competent in the subject.”

Think Like Einstein is a self-paced online activity that helps students reason out Einstein’s special theory of relativity regarding the relationship between space and time.

Anna Wessels Williams (1863-1954) was an American bacteriologist who isolated a virulent strain of diphtheria that led to the mass production of more antitoxin so more lives could be saved. She went on to work on a rabies vaccine and rabies detection, venereal disease, eye infections, influenza, pneumonia, meningitis, and smallpox.

Observing Different Microbes  Students use a light microscope to examine three different microbes: bacteria in yogurt, Baker's yeast, and paramecia in pond water.

Rita Levi-Montalcini (1909-2012) was an Italian neuroembryologist who investigated embryonic nerve cells and nerve growth factors that affect disease, skin grafts, and spinal cord injuries.

Cells Students learn about parts of the cell, cellular division, and basic cell function with a collection of videos, images, and documents.

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