It’s Friday and my classes are unusually squirmy. They know it’s one week before spring break and they are already off of school in their minds. So I decided to try something a little different based on the new common core standards that include literacy in every content area.

I gave them three articles about Lise Meitner (a nuclear physicist).

All of these articles are clearly biased about Meitner’s loss of credit for nuclear fission.

I asked the students to write a response to the article for 10 minutes. I did not give them any topic, they just needed to write their response. They were told that they would not lose points based on their opinion, but the point was to get their opinion.

Then I asked students to respond to one of the following two statements. One statement was given each class.

Women today do not have any obstacles in becoming physicists.


Women becoming physicists today have many obstacles to overcome, which is why there is such a small number of women physicists.

I received some really interesting comments on this assignment, which I will grade for completion and the six traits of writing.

I had some very interesting comments and I’ve taken some quotes from their papers and added them here.

There is still signs of sexism in the workplace, but none too drastic to prevent a woman who is capable to participate in science classes, jobs, laboratories, and research facilities.

I think that maybe some women don’t pursue the sciences because there haven’t been many famous female scientists in the past compared to men (Einstein, etc).

It will most likely be harder for them [women] to be “higher ups” in their fields, but they can still pursue a career in science

…in many parts of the world women aren’t given the same opportunity as men.

Historically more men are credited and culturally men are more commonly seen as inventors.

….culturally science isn’t seen as a female pursuit.

….but society’s look on the average scientist being male is a discouragement.

I thought that this was an interesting way to learn more about my students (50/50  male/female ration in my regular class, 10/1 in my honors class, 8/1 in my AP class)

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