The evolution of genetics over the past 160 years has been astounding. From their discovery in 1861 to present day mail-in genetic ancestry testing; the field of genetics has certainly grown exponentially with no limits in sight. You may already know some of the figures who are rooted in genetics history such as: Gregor Mendel and Thomas Hunt Morgan; but do you know Nettie Stevens? If the name doesn’t sound familiar; sit back and take a moment and allow us to introduce this amazing geneticist whose work in the field is worthy of recognition.
Nettie Stevens was born in July 1861 in Cavendish, VT, just north of Brattleboro. Stevens was the daughter of a successful carpenter who was able to send his children to school and it was here that she was discovered to be, “a brilliant student, consistently scoring the highest in her classes.” Eventually she attended Leland Stanford University and graduated with a master’s in biology and her thesis focused on, “microscopic work and precise, careful detailing of new species of marine life. This training was a factor in her success with later investigations of chromosomal behavior.” All of which assist her in her future endeavors.
While teaching wasn’t Nettie’s first career choice; she was known for vibrant enthusiasm and love of science. She is quoted as saying, "How could you think your questions would bother me? They never will, so long as I keep my enthusiasm for biology; and that, I hope will be as long as I live.” Her dedication to teaching is only surpassed by her love of learning. It was her devotion to discovery that led her to discovering the XY Chromosomes in male mealworms and XX chromosomes in females of the same species. Therefore, she concluded that, “…sex is inherited as a chromosomal factor and that males determine the gender of the offspring.”
At the time, it was widely assumed that gender was dictated by the mother, not the father. Additionally, Stevens theory was not immediately accepted until, “…another researcher, Edmund Wilson, made a similar discovery at about the same time.” Research that continued with teaching at Bryn Mawr and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories. Unfortunately, she is a historic figure that was lost too soon; and died of Breast Cancer on May 4, 1912. However, we like to think her contribution to genetics and dedication to learning has inspired the same geneticists who discovered the breast cancer genes BRCA 1 and BRCA 2. Nettie Stevens is truly an inspiration to all of us.
The Roots of STEM
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The History of STEM Starter
How is anyone inspired to start a new project?
Truthfully - it begins with identifying a need or gap in services and then choosing to become the person, or people, who want to fill that need. That is what STEM Starter is all about - filling a need. A unique quality that every scientist, engineer and mathematician shares is the ability to ask questions. With that said, nobody asks more questions than children! Therefore, it is our belief that children are natural born STEM students and it is our hope that STEM Starter will assist students, parents, teachers, and caregivers in nurturing that wonderous curiosity.
In 2018, a college student studying Physics & Philosophy, identified a gap in STEM education and decided to do address this community need. She noticed STEM education of elementary school students was lacking the support they required, specifically in underserved and under-represented communities. Additionally, she noted that with support, guiding materials, and creativity there is no reason why the STEM fields cannot be introduced, taught, and encouraged at home.
That is where STEM Starter begins.
STEM Starter, Inc. is an educational non-profit (501c3) organization that simply provides STEM activities and experiments for students interested in the STEM fields. More importantly, these activities do not require fancy equipment, membership, or the purchase of expensive supplies. On the contrary, STEM Starter explores our everyday activities and then demonstrates exactly how those activities fit into one of the STEM fields. For example, STEM Starter answers questions such as:
- When you twist a lid off of a jar, why does the lid move up?
- Can you measure the amount of square feet in a room?
- Can you build your own balance?
- Can you make glasses "sing"?
- Why do circle wheels work better than square wheels on a bicycle?
Every STEM Starter activity includes the following: A "Problem Question" to be explored; Encourages the development of a Hypothesis; Outlines the experiment with instructions and corresponding pictures; Provides a post Q&A opportunity that includes an explanation section for parents, caregivers, and teachers. Additionally there are expansion sections that assist adults by challenging and encouraging their budding STEM student to explore their area of interest even further all while providing nurturing support. The goal of STEM Starter is to harness the STEM of everyday activities and demonstrate to children that they're currently living in, surrounded by and utilizing science, technology, engineering and math; all they need to do - is ask questions.
Our phenomenal volunteers are college students who are passionate about STEM and devoted to sharing that passion with their communities.
These hopeful STEM professionals are dedicated to fostering the natural curiosity of future STEM generations while demonstrating that a knowledge of science, technology, engineering and math already exists - you just need to know how to apply it to the needs of today.
There are so many ways you can help STEM Starter; all you have to do is look for the gaps in service or unique opportunities in your community. Here at STEM Starter we try not to duplicate programs; rather we try to compliment what already exists.
Are you a student?
- Volunteer as a Peer Tutor at your school.
-Develop an experiment and submit it to STEM Starter. You might even see your experiment on our website!
Are you a parent?
- Donate a copy of STEM Starter Charting a New Course to a local library, community organization, police department or juvenile detention center.
Are you an educator?
Inspire your students to create STEM experiments at home that can be reused in the classroom. We are always looking for new and innovative ways to learn about everyday items.
Are you a business?
Sponsor a donation of STEM Starter Charting a New Course to a school or organization in your community.