Friday Five - 11.18.16

"Be interested in everything. You don't have to adore it. I don't adore hip-hop, I don't think it's great music, but I'm interested, I listen. I watch a lot of new films, I see everything. I still read, I like books, whether they are old books, new books. I'm interested - you gotta stay interested!' - Mel Brooks

I really enjoy the process of blogging. I like writing, sharing, photos, research, basically just creating. But the idea of a long blog post synthesizing tons of information, pictures, and maybe a joke can be daunting. So I'd like to try to start posting a Friday Five post - five things I'm super interested in this week. Not that my interests are so great you should take the time to read all about them and take them as your own - but because the process of sharing is so important and something that I really value. I love hearing about random art, articles, books, podcasts etc that other people are into and I love reading these sorts of posts from others. So here are five of my (not election related) current obsessions: 

The Unicorn Tapestries - The Met Cloisters Museum

I took a quick trip to NYC last weekend and spent the perfect Sunday roaming around the Cloisters Museum. The museum is in Upper Manhattan on the Hudson River in the middle of Fort Tyron Park. It was the perfect fall day, with the perfect company, and some really interesting medieval art. 

The best part was a room with the Unicorn Tapestries (or the Hunt of the Unicorn). It's a series of seven tapestries depicting hunters and noblemen pursuing a unicorn. The tapestries have been a mystery to critics in modern times but they are believed to have been created between 1495-1505. Some historians believe they were commissioned by Anne of Brittany as a gift to Louis XII on their marriage in part due to an A and E that are displayed in each tapestry - but this has also been refuted. 

The unicorn is such an interesting figure and the symbolism of it in the tapestries has also been the subject of much debate. "The original pagan myths about The Hunt of the Unicorn refer to an animal with a single horn that can only be tamed by a virgin; Christian scholars translated this into an allegory for Christ's relationship with the Virgin Mary." Interesting stuff.

There is a lot more information about the tapestries and the symbolism online if you can't make it to the museum - but I'd recommend it if you are in the area. Read more here, here, and here.

Grace Hopper - Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient

Grace Hopper, the "first lady of software" was one of 21 people awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom this week! Super exciting to me for so many reasons. Hopper was one of the first female computer scientists, one of the first programmers of the Harvard Mark 1 computer, an admiral in the United States Navy and so much more. I painted her portrait for my classroom STEAM stars wall and I'm so glad she is getting even more recognition, albeit posthumously.

Interesting Grace Hopper story: she is believe to have invented the term "de-bugging" after she found an actual moth in Harvard's Mark II computer.  

She is awesome. Read more about her here and here

Math Gender Gap

As a math teacher who has spent three of the last 8 years teaching all girls, this study has been on my mind a ton this week. It found that the gender gap in math starts in kindergarten due to teacher and parents expectations and biases! I know this to be true from my own experience but it's still shocking to see that girls are consistently underrated in math skills when the data actually shows that they start out at the same level of ability. Boys are more likely to be called on to answer or demonstrate, and teachers in study after study are shown to have unconscious biases towards girls math ability.

This is so important for teachers, parents, mentors - everybody to address. In order to close the gender gap in STEM girls need to first believe that they are capable! (and have role models like Grace Hopper :))

Read more here and here

Daring Greatly by Brene Brown

I'm reading 52 books this year so people ask me for recommendations a lot. Well, people who read books - so still not like a lot a lot haha but a fair amount of people. I just finished up Daring Greatly after it had been in my pile for months and I can't recommend it enough. I'm always skeptical of the Oprah book club variety fare but this is a revelation in so many ways.

The title comes from The Man in the Arena exerpt from the famous Teddy Roosevelt speech, Citizen in a Republic

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."

This quote is at the crux of Browns research that led to her incredibly popular TedTalk on The Power of Vulnerability - and the book is basically a continuation of the talk. Brown defines vulnerability as, "uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure" and through the book explains that in order to have purpose and meaning in our lives, we must have the courage to be vulnerable.

She says, “When we spend our lives waiting until we’re perfect or bulletproof before we walk into the arena, we ultimately sacrifice relationships and opportunities that may not be recoverable, we squander our precious time, and we turn our backs on our gifts, those unique contributions that only we can make,” says Brown. “Perfect and bulletproof are seductive, but they don’t exist in the human experience.”

It seems like common sense but I honestly have felt a shift in my life since I have read this book. I have let myself be vulnerable in ways that I haven't done in the past and I feel so much freer. I could go on but you should just read the book! Or watch the TedTalk :) 


Summer Plans - (and that guy who dissolved in Yellowstone)

It snowed for the first time this year yesterday in Denver (after a 40 degree temperature drop in mere hours) so I have been thinking a lot about summer haha. I love summer - not just because I am off work - but the sun, the water, the mountains, the opportunity to wear backwards hats - the list goes on. 

I've been looking through some of my summer photos (like the ones taken in Yellowstone above in June) and reminding myself that just as winter comes, so does summer and soon enough I will be back out there. 

I've also been morbidly obsessed with stories about the guy who essentially dissolved in a hot spring after falling into it just a few days before I visited. I heard about it at the time but the report was just released so if you're into that stuff... look here and here. 

So there ya have it - my top fives this week. I will (hopefully) have five definitely new, maybe interesting, possibly math related things to share next week. What are you thinking about this week? Stay interested friends.