The Starfish

June 12, 2011

I have always loved this story (source unknown):

THE STARFISH POEMSusan and Starfish, June 2011
Once upon a time there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing.  He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work. One day he was walking along the shore. As he looked down the beach, he saw a human figure moving like a dancer.  He smiled to himself to think of someone who would dance to the day. So he began to walk faster to catch up.

As he got closer, he saw that it was a young man
and the young man wasn’t dancing, but instead he was reaching down to the shore, picking up something and very gently throwing it into the ocean.  As he got closer he called out, “Good morning! What are you doing?”

The young man paused, looked up and replied, “Throwing starfish in the ocean.”  The wise man then asked, “Why are you throwing starfish in the ocean?”  “The sun is up and the tide is going out. And if I don’t throw them in they’ll die.”

“But, young man, don’t you realize that there are miles and miles of beach and starfish all along it. You can’t possibly make a difference!”

The young man listened politely. Then bent down, picked up another starfish and threw it into the sea, past the breaking waves and said, “It made a difference for that one.”

When I was visiting my brother earlier this week and found this starfish stranded on the beach, I knew what I had to do, and what I had to remember.  It’s not about making a splash or being seen as an expert or anything else.  It’s about making a difference, to one person, today.

That’s all I want to do.

Today I’m making a gallery of women in planetary science on Pinterest, in the hope that one little girl somewhere, when she’s just about had enough of the boys teasing and ignoring her all at once, will find it, and realize that there are other girls like her who love science, who love nature, who love looking up at the stars, or who want to figure out how things work more than anything else — and when she grows up, or perhaps before, she will find them.

She will work hard and stay focused, and not get discouraged, and she will be able to do the work she loves.


NASA Open House

May 13, 2011

Looking for something to do in the LA or DC areas this weekend?  Check out the NASA Open Houses in at least two areas across the country!  For West Coasters, there’s the JPL Open House in Pasadena, CA.  East Coasters, how about the GSFC Open House in Greenbelt, MD.  Both are free and open to the public — and a fantastic opportunity to get a peek into the nation’s space program!  Live farther away (like Australia or New Zealand)?  You can still take a peek at the latest news about our solar system AND a page of fun for kids at NASA’s Solar System Exploration page (also on Facebook).

Have fun!


Meet the Planets (with giveaway!)

April 28, 2011

Meet The Planets, by John McGranaghan, is a beautiful way to introduce your kid (or your kid’s classroom) to our solar system!  The style is casual and conversational, with Pluto as the host of a game show-like Favorite Planet Competition.  The illustrations, by Laurie Allen Klein, are intricately detailed and simply gorgeous, with so much more than the planets themselves illustrated — each page also includes depictions of spacecraft visiting the planets and an audience of astronomers, moons, and constellation imagery.  The book is great as an on-your-own exploration or an engaging read-aloud for younger kids.  We’ve had our copy for a few days, and my kindergartner has picked it up to investigate on his own again and again.

A helpful appendix includes six pages of learning activities, not unlike the ones in the Tag books for little ones, but these much more intricately detailed, teaching science, math, technology, and education (STEM) skills like collecting data, working with time and temperature, comparing the length of a day and a year for the planets, working with large numbers (up to 4.5 billion km, the average distance from the Sun to Neptune), images to explore (from Stonehenge to Cassini), and a true/false quiz based on facts introduced earlier in the book.  The activities are supplemented with additional free activities that anyone can download.

This book is a lot of fun, with beautiful illustrations and a concept that doesn’t leave poor little Pluto out in the cold.  Well, not any colder than he already is! 

Full disclosure: C and I reviewed this book for scientific accuracy; we’re credited on the flap, but we received no financial compensation for the work or for this post.  I did receive a couple copies to use or give away —

If you’d like to be entered to win a copy of Meet the Planets, just leave a comment below.  For extra entries, “like” Toddler Planet and/or Women in Planetary Science on Facebook, and leave another comment telling me that you’ve done so!  I’ll use random.org to select the winner and mail the books at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, May 3.


Hot Mommas & Role Models

April 25, 2011

Oh, where to go with this title?  Don’t worry, I’ll stick to the game plan and show you this new bling from the George Washington University Hot Mommas Global Case Study Competition – Role models for women and girls.
Winner, Hot Mommas case study projectThe Hot Mommas Project was started by Kathy Korman Frey to increase the availability of business textbook case studies featuring women and girls, and it quickly expanded to an international phenomenon with contributors from countries all over the world and a regular blog encouraging women in their pursuit of success — however they may define it.  

My case isn’t about cancer or advocacy or blogging – directly – but it does talk about my life at work and the choice I faced when deciding whether to be a WOHM or a SAHM (who also works).  You can read my case or browse the free case study library if you wish.  My story tied for first in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) category this year, and it may be featured in a future textbook, along with Q&A that I prepared and submitted for the case.

I love the idea of the Hot Mommas project, and how Kathy and her team have put it into action!  Congratulations to ALL the winnners!