Yesterday, National Public Radio in the US published an interview with an astronomer, in which he’s quoted saying:

“Many scientists, I think, secretly are what I call ‘boys with toys’.”

Many other scientists are, of course, not boys at all. But they still have toys, and for the last eleven hours or so Twitter has been awash with fantastic photos of scientists, grouped under #girlswithtoys. There are lots of telescopes:

…there are plenty of other bits of apparatus and equipment:

I have no idea what a dual intracellular amp is, but it’s clearly making someone happy.

Then there are the not-really-instruments-just-cool-toys:

Drop whatever you’re doing and spend a few minutes scrolling through the #girlswithtoys stream (see also the live feed). It’s a glorious depiction of scientists doing what they love, with the tools and instruments of their work.

(top image from this tweet – who doesn’t love a spot of Antarctic heli-fishing?)

Update, 11am: One of the most remarkable photographs is this:

Margaret Hamilton during the Apollo Program (NASA / WikiMedia Commons)

Margaret Hamilton during the Apollo Program (NASA / WikiMedia Commons)

I’d never heard of Margaret Hamilton, which seems outrageous given that she was the lead flight software engineer on the Apollo programme. That is: the code written by her team landed men on the moon. In the final moments before touchdown, the Apollo 11 Lunar Module computer was swamped with excess data and pushed beyond its limits. It’s a fairly standard story in software engineering circles about how the development team anticipated such a situation and had built a system that could tolerate it. Their foresight avoided calamity.

I’ve read the story many times, but I’ve never heard it mentioned that Hamilton led that development group, nor that she coined the very term ‘software engineering.’ Her Wikipedia page is awesome.

The Young Engineer Design and Technology Competition

Northumbria University are delighted to be once again supporting the annual ‘Young Engineer Design and Technology Competition’ held at the Discovery Museum, Newcastle and organised by Hexham Rotary Club on Tuesday, 2nd July 2015.

This is a fantastic opportunity for students who are submitting GCSE or GCE Design or Technology examination projects to showcase their work to judges which, has in the past included entries from: graphics, materials, textiles, electronics, systems, engineering and food technology.

Students do need to attend schools in Northumberland, North Tyneside or Newcastle to enter and and can expect to compete for student prizes of £150 and school prizes (£350), as well as other awards.

Teachers: If you would be interested in submitting entries or would like further information about the competition, please email Bryan Bell (Hexham Rotary) brian.bell@btbell.co.uk  or alternatively you can download further details below:

YEDT Further Information

YEDT Entry Form 2015

Deadline for entries: Friday 12th June 2015

A-level Subject Take-up

Ofsted have published an analysis of the numbers and proportions of girls and boys studying A-level subjects in England:

Until now there has been no single source of data for schools or inspectors to consult that sets out the numbers and proportions of girls and boys that progress from Year 11 to AS levels and then from AS to A level. This report provides that data, so that schools can compare their own performance against the national picture. Several subjects have significantly unequal numbers of girls and boys, for example physics.

Do read the report for the figures in detail, but Dom McDonald, Programme Manager, Outreach at the Royal Society of Chemistry has the STEM subjects summary:

Also on Twitter, he went on to note that the most extreme subject appears to be Computing, with a girls:boys ratio of 0.09:1.