One of the 21st centuries greatest trends, in my opinion, is not only the push for women in STEM fields, but also representing women that were and are involved in the development of science, mathematics, and engineering. The book Ada Lovelace, Poet of Science: the First Computer Programmer written by Diane Stanley and illustrated by Jessie Hartland portrays the story of Ada Lovelace. Lovelace was integral in the development of programming in a time where women were not typically involved or portrayed being involved in inventing, or the STEM field. The story includes many themes that are relevant to women’s rights and women’s fights today: persistence, working against stereotypes, being proud of one’s accomplishments, and innovation.
The story begins following Ada as a child: a child whose imagination and curiosity were unstoppable and could not be contained- even by her mother. Against her mother’s wishes, Ada invented flying wings that could take her across the city with a birds eye view. She wanted to write about them and share what she had created with the world. Lady Byron, Ada’s mother, tried to curb her daughter’s “emotional and creative” spirit, like her late father, and wanted her to become more “calm and rational,” like herself. To do this, Lady Bryon steered Ada towards a high-class science education.
However, Lady Byron did not realize that this education would only fuel Ada with more curiosity. Growing up during the Industrial Revolution, Ada learned about the importance of machines and how they worked. She was inspired by Joseph Marie Jacquard, who created a machine that could weave any pattern. Ada thought that she could adapt his design to make more than just weaved patterns.
This idea-turned-dream got temporarily interrupted by her mother’s quest for Ada to get married. While parading Ada to different parties, Ada not only met a future colleague, scientist Charles Babbage, who was an innovative scientist that she decided she wanted to work with, but also her future husband, the Earl of Lovelace. With the Earl of Lovelace, Ada had three children before she continued to pursue her dreams of becoming an incredible inventor.
Ada returned and finally got to work with Charles Babbage, who had created an Analytical Machine, which was a mathematical genius, and could solve any problem. He asked Ada to explain the workings of the machine for a footnote, and Ada elaborated on all that a machine like this could accomplish- which is what is currently known as programming today.
Ada didn’t sign her name, as she was afraid others would not trust the information she presented if they knew it was written by a woman. She signed by her initials, and was proud to stamp her mark on the beginning of what would develop to be an integral aspect of the computer age.
Overall, this book is an excellent read for children of all ages and all gender identities. To know that women are capable- and always have been is a message that all children should receive. Furthermore, this story is even more important because women and their contributions during history are more often than not left out of history books. By supplementing history lessons with this book, or others of its sort, young children will receive more of a full understanding of the world’s history, and receive more perspectives.
Not only these ideas, but the themes of staying true to oneself, defying what society tells you what you can do, pursuing dreams even if they get temporarily put on pause, and determination, make this a good book to read, whether it is to a classroom full of children, at home with kids, or to anyone, any age, who is willing to listen.