Children need role models. Growing up I had several, including my parents, my teachers, and even Bill Nye the Science Guy. And as I wrote in my last blog entry, fictional role models can be just as important. Such characters can provide our minds with creative fodder for our goals.
One way Marvel has helped define role models for young girls is through its female characters—in particular, its great female scientist characters. Betty Ross is a genetic scientist who worked with Bruce Banner in his experiments that turned him into The Hulk. Pepper Potts is the CEO of Stark Industries, a billion-dollar tech company that develops all of the Iron Man technology. Jane Foster is the brilliant astrophysicist who studies wormholes and space travel, the same ones Thor uses to travel to Earth. And lastly, my personal favorite is Jemma Simmons. She is the leading biochemical scientist on Marvel’s television show, “S.H.I.E.L.D.” She frequently uses her intellect to tackle the ever-growing list of bad guys and obstacles on the series.
Watch a video on the Ant Man Challenge, courtesy of Engineering TV, below:
I’m always impressed by Marvel’s portrayal of science, which is why I’m excited for its latest project. In Ant-Man, Evangeline Lilly portrays another female scientist, Hope Van Dyne, daughter of scientist Hank Pym, played by Michael Douglas. Together, they created the shrinking technology used by Scott Lang, aka “Ant-Man” (played by Paul Rudd). To promote the release of the movie, Marvel has announced a micro-tech challenge for young girls. Go to www.ant-manchallenge.com and you will see a short video featuring Evangeline Lilly introducing the contest. The contest is challenging young girls ages 14 to 18 to create DIY projects by using everyday materials or readily accessible technology. The winners will meet Disney Imagineers who work on the technology at Disney Studios, along with attending the premiere for Ant-Man. The winners will also get a chance to teach their design in a STEM-based girls’ program in their community. The deadline for contest submittals is June 11.
The possibilities of this contest are endless because of the amazing products available in the DIY industry. The project is co-sponsored by Raspberry Pi, the credit-card-sized single-board computers that teach the basics of computer science in schools. The system is comparable to older smartphone boards like an iPhone 3GS, except the new boards have 1 GB of RAM. Arduino is another open-source computer hardware company that provides designs for building digital devices. littleBits offers electronic building blocks to allow budding scientists to create their own devices such as a light- and sound-activated switch or doorbell operated by text messages. 3D printing allows inventors to print out 3D models by using free CAD software such as 123D Design by Autodesk. 3D printing alone opens the door to create and print tons of designs that would take weeks or months to construct in just a few days.
The Ant-Man Micro Tech Challenge is pushing young girls to use their minds to be creative and, as a bonus, leading them to discover the new world of DIY tools that are available not just to veteran engineers, but to young, aspiring engineers as well.