Sunday, June 27, 2010


I have been enjoying a very mellow summer so far. Sure, I've done some work - planned out most of my fall semester courses, worked through about one-third of a general chemistry text as review - but mostly I've been reading and resting and enjoying the outdoors.

Went to Julian with Greg and lunched at an old soda fountain:

From Summer 2010

One of the few things I miss about Arizona is the dry blue desert sky, so Julian scratched that itch (and also the itch for apple cider donuts):

From Summer 2010

Carl visited this past week, which was fun. There was much geekiness - gaming, watching BSG, discussing physics education - and lots of beach walks and good food. Here's the scene from an after dinner beach walk in my neighborhood:

From Summer 2010

Nice view from La Jolla Cove:

From Summer 2010

Lunch at Super Cocina:

From Summer 2010

June gloom at Torrey Pines State Beach:

From Summer 2010

Picnicking with a view of San Diego Harbor:

From Summer 2010

Yup, a mellow and enjoyable summer so far!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Daring to discuss being female AND being good at math

Many folks more eloquent than me have discussed John Tierney's recent article in the New York Times: "Daring to Discuss Women's Potential in Science". Boing Boing has the views of four female scientists here. Female Science Professor shares her thoughts here. Female Science Professor sums up Tierney's perspective this way:

There are flawed studies that show that females and males have similar quantitative skills and better studies that show that more males than females are extremely talented at math.

Or, as Dr. Isis says in the Boing Boing article:

Personally, I would find it much more interesting if he would start posting recipes for pies we could make with all the cherries he's picking..

Here's my take: you cannot apply the results of subject tests taken by people under the influence of a cultural bias to say that there IS no cultural bias and any difference noted in the results therefore must be INNATE. Period. The girls taking the tests have been influenced all their lives by the cultural portrayals of math as being a male-dominated pursuit and not as necessary or easy for girls. Has Tierney ever heard of the concept of "stereotype threat" or does he dismiss that out of hand? Or perhaps the recent widely publicized study that one indicator of math success rates is tied to the anxiety exhibited by female teachers? (Who, as education majors, come into my classroom already telling me that they are not "math people".)

As an educator, I see so many students coming into my classroom full of doubt about their abilities, and it is true that females seem to lack confidence more than males. However, what the females don't lack is innate ability.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Another week

Hanging out with Greg

From Summer 2010

View from the beach where I attempted jogging

From Summer 2010

Geisel Library on the UCSD campus

From Summer 2010

Beautiful sight of Saturn's rings and two moons (Rhea and Janus)

And an impact on Jupiter! (via the Bad Astronomer and Anthony Wesley):