It seems to me that practicing scientists can be helpful in promoting K-12 education. In my web-page I approach this in two ways. On one level I have a short biography about myself to handle the many requests I get from both young children and older high school students for biographical information, so that they can complete their homework assignments. I also enclose below some comments about how practicing scientists can go into K-12 classrooms to excite kids about science and to show youngsters some of the thought processes of scientists. The reason for enclosing these comments is that I get frequent requests from scientific colleagues for information on how to run a class with K-12 children.Visiting A Class of Elementary School Children
I describe below my experiences in doing classes on nanoscience and nanotechnology upon request from an Elementary School where one of my granddaughters is a student. This report is under development.Making a Presentation to Junior High and High School Students
I was recently invited to give a presentation to high school students when I was in the general area to attend another event. The presentation to the High School students was on a Thursday night, and even though I had to compete with homework and a very popular basketball game involving a State Championship team, the attendance at my talk was about 150-200 people, telling me that there is interest out there in what a scientist can say to young people. I have given these kind of talks before, each a little different from the other, but all are generally well received by the youngsters in the audience. I was asked on this particular occasion to give a broad introduction to nanoscience and technology, refer to my own experiences where appropriate, spend a little time describing what I did when I was in the government serving in the Clinton Administration and giving the high school students some mentoring and career counselling. This report is under development.Biography For Kindergarten Through Eighth Grade Students
Mildred Spiewak Dresselhaus was born in Brooklyn, New York, on November 11, 1930 and was given the name Mildred Spiewak, named after her mother's mother, who died when her mother was about 5 years old as a toddler Mildred would either be pushed in a baby carriage or she would walk across the historic Brooklyn Bridge which was very close to her house and which connected the Boroughs of Brooklyn and Manhattan. When Mildred was about 4 years old, her family moved to the Bronx, which is another one of the five Boroughs which make up New York City. This move was made so that her older brother, Irving, could be close to a music school where he was given a scholarship to study the violin. As a very young child, Mildred accompanied her brother to his violin lessons and listened to him practicing his instrument, and soon she could sing the various pieces he was playing. This led to her starting violin lessons before she was 5 years old and before she started kindergarten. She learned to read music before she could read words in the English language.
Mildred attended the local public school for grades K-6 (Called P.S. 42). This school was two blocks from her apartment house in the Bronx. For her Junior High School (Grades 7-9) Millie attended a school called (P. S. 55) which was only 5 blocks from her home. The P. S. stands for Public School. Her favorite subject was mathematics. She was a curious, but shy student, and especially enjoyed the beginning of each semester when she received the books that were loaned to her for the semester. This was an opportunity to read through the math book the first week of the semester to get a preview of what she would be learning during the semester. As she got older, science books for the semester were also loaned to students and she also read through those during the first week of class. Some of the memorable things she did in elementary school was to have special assignments. The first was a job to teach a mentally retarded boy to read. So at the age of 8 years, she had her first paying job, earning a total of 50 cents per week for three hours of hard work daily. When she was 11 years old, she had a non-paying job as an assistant to her sixth grade teacher in helping her with administrative work and other assignments.
Throughout her elementary and junior high school years, she continued her music lessons as a scholarship student at the Greenwich House Music School (in Manhattan) which was nearly one hour away by subway from where she lived in the Bronx. There she met children from families with higher incomes than her own family's income. They of course enjoyed a more comfortable lifestyle than Millie. From these contacts, Millie quickly learned as a young child the value of a good education. Her music education thus provided her with extremely high motivation for her studies in her early school years.
Through these contacts she also learned about the possibility of attending a special high school for girls in New York City (Manhattan). Admittance to this high school was by examination, and only 80 girls from the whole city were accepted per semester. Since nobody from her junior high school had ever passed this entrance exam, she undertook an intensive self study program of Math and English exams given in past years for entrance into this special school. Using this strategy, she managed to pass the examination, and she became a student at Hunter College High School. This event can be considered the "entry point/junction" that led to her becoming a scientist.
She chose her lifework in science because she loved it so much as a youngster, and this love and fascination for the unknown and for the discovery of new things, not yet known before, has remained with her throughout her life. Her research areas have involved the study of how materials behave and why they behave the way they do. Her most recent interests are in the area of nanostructures. These tiny structures are of sizes 100,000 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair and much too small to see with the naked human eye. Because of their tiny size, they have very different physical properties from the same materials at sizes large enough that they can be seen by the human eye. She is presently hard at work studying what are the special properties of these tiny objects, how these special properties arise, and how we can make use of these special properties for useful applications.
Young people with lots of curiosity and willingness to work at understanding natural phenomena in detail can experience an exciting and rewarding career in science, as she has had.
She got her Bachelor's Degree at Hunter College in New York City. She went on to get her Master's Degree at Radcliffe College in Cambridge, Massachusetts and finally received a Doctor of Philosophy Degree at The University of Chicago in Chicago, Illinois. She worked as a Postdoctoral Fellow at Cornell University and soon after accepted a job at MIT's Lincoln Laboratory in Lexington, Massachusetts. Since 1967 she has been an MIT (Cambridge, MA) Professor in the EECS (Electrical Engineering & Computer Science) a "Joint" Department, and since 1983 she has also been a professor in the MIT Physics Department.
She met Dr. Gene F. Dresselhaus while doing her Ph.D. work at the University of Chicago. She married Gene in 1958 and have together raised 4 children (who are in their late 30's through mid 40's now). Their names are Marianne Dresselhaus Cooper, Carl Eric Dresselhaus, Paul David Dresselhaus & Eliot Michael Dresselhaus. Carl lives in Arlington, Massachusetts while Eliot & Marianne live in California and Paul lives in Colorado.