ADA ALWAYS MAKES OUR DAY
Nobody sells Ada Lovelace Day cards. Nobody lights fireworks. Nobody gets the day off from work.
Ada Lovelace Day comes and goes without a lot of hype – but not at Seabury.
Every year on the second Tuesday in October we give Ada her props as a role model for women in science and technology and an inspiration for anyone who marches to their own drummer.
Established in 2009, Ada Lovelace Day is celebrated internationally -- if relatively modestly – in various ways. Here at Seabury we celebrate by inviting women with STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) backgrounds to share their knowledge and experience with our students through conversations, presentations and hands-on activities.
The highlight of this year’s celebration was an activity involving blood. But more about that later. First we need to answer an important question.
Born in 1815, Ada was the daughter of the famous British poet Lord Byron. Didn’t see that coming, did you?
Fearing that Ada would develop her father’s moody temperament, her mother sought to instill rigor and self-discipline by insisting she study math and science – an unheard of pursuit for women at the time.
Ada was a natural, though, and eventually became a protégé of Charles Babbage, regarded as the father of the computer. Ada eventually wrote a paper describing how codes could be created for Babbage’s analytical machine – and went down in history as the world’s first computer programmer.
Although COVID prevented us from celebrating Ada Lovelace Day on campus this year, our middle schoolers engaged with various guests – some of them parents and some members of the community – via a series of Zoom sessions organized by teacher Jared Mackenzie.
“There are still not a lot of women working in STEM fields,” said Jared. “I think it’s important that girls at Seabury – boys, too – learn about the different opportunities in those fields from people in the real world.”
This year students learned about everything from infection control to software coding to reading chest x-rays. Plus they got to play with blood.
Well, not exactly play. And it wasn’t exactly blood. It was synthetic blood and students used it to learn how to determine blood type during a session led by Leslie Saucedo, a professor at the University of Puget Sound.
Working with materials sent home as part of a distance learning science kit, students dribbled droplets of blood into three small depressions on a plastic plate, added a different antibody to each droplet, stirred them for a couple of minutes and waited for the blood to react.
By observing which – if any – of the droplets formed specks of clumping blood cells, students were able to deduce whether the blood was A, B, AB or O.
One student wanted to take the experiment a step further. “Can I taste it?” he asked
“I’m guessing no,” Leslie said firmly.