For Women’s History Month, let’s celebrate these women and how they “Coded the Future!”
I love how children’s authors are unearthing and writing about the untold stories of women’s contributions to our world. INSTRUCTIONS NOT INCLUDED exposes kids to three more women who were fabulous mathematicians, the forerunners of today’s computer coders.
These three women were part of the team that turned a pile of wires and tubes into the computer ENIAC (see publisher’s description below). Its first test problem? Calculating an artillery launch for the war effort.
The machine weighed 30 tons and was a third the length of a football field. And rumors circulated that the lights of Philly dimmed when they turned it on.
The authors build tension by showing how these women’s careers were on the line. If the test wasn’t successful, they worried they’d be sent packing. Not to mention it would be a failure for the Allies. I was biting my fingernails in suspense.
It’s instructive to see how the authors painted the three women’s distinct personalities in a single page, each: one is stubborn, one aims to win, and the third is a perfectionist. All three qualities served them well for the daunting task at hand.
It’s also interesting to see how the men in charge congratulated each other on their success, when it was the women who made it all work. Surprising? If you’re a woman in STEM, you shake your head and keep on keeping on.
Three pages of back matter go into more detail about the these women’s lives and the entire ENIAC project. A fabulous selection from Women’s History Month!
Publisher’s flap teaser:
Check out coding resources at the Girls Who Code website
Have fun with Cool Math Games
Even kindergarteners can enjoy Vi Hart’s Möbius strip story about Wind and Mr. Ug (Vi Hart is a fabulous mathematician/artist as well.)
Title: Instructions Not Included: How a Team of Women Coded the Future
Authors: Tami Lewis Brown & Debbie Loren Dunn
Illustrator: Chelsea Beck
Publisher: Disney/Hyperion, 2019
Themes: Computer history, STEM, girl power
For more perfect picture book recommendations, please visit Susanna Hill’s blog.