This Wednesday was not like every other Wednesday. I made a surprise visit to my daughter's school. She was seated at the lunch table with some girlfriends. She asked what I was doing here so early in the afternoon. I said it is International Women's Day and I want to celebrate it with her. Her friend asked if there was an International Mens Day and I replied, why yes - there is, November 19. And today, we should make a special effort to recognize and celebrate women. Her friend grinned broadly and she was proud to be a girl today.
My daughter asked what we were going to do. I replied, what would you like to do? Her first reaction was that she wanted to stay with her friends. Next choice was going to the pool and watching her younger sisters at their swim lessons. Had it been summertime, I might have been more lured towards pooltime relaxation. Having another plan in mind, I said how about we go to the Tech Museum where they have experiments and interactive exhibits. While not completely convinced, she said OK on the condition that we would play a Taylor Swift playlist from Apple Music and perform karaoke in the car.
Welcome to The Tech
In my typical A-type personality mode, the goal for the afternoon would have been to hit up every exhibit in an attempt to 'complete' the museum experience. I decided to release from that mental framework and allow my daughter to pick based on her interests and spend as little or as much time as she wanted.
How Silicon Valley got its name
We started our tour learning about the history of Silicon Valley, microchips, transistors and Moore's Law. We talked about how the first computer was the size of this entire exhibit room and had less power than today's iPad.
Mashable faces similar to Snapchat filters
Simulation about server, routers and how to use firewalls to block the transfer of corrupt data
We stumbled across a building activity called "From Here To There." The goal is to build a structure which will transport a golf ball across the model ravine without making a bridge or tunnel. As we took the toolkit and started to review all of the building components, I must admit my first instinct was to Google the name of the exercise and hope that some solution images popped up. Resisting that urge and focuses on the goal in mind, we started brainstorming ideas on how to use the available materials and came up with the catapult idea. Within minutes, we were building, iterating and testing and it worked!
Our catapult device was a success on attempt #1
Next up was the Cyber Detectives, powered by Palo Alto Networks. This is the most impressive, interactive and innovative exhibits I have ever experienced. Each training station discussed different elements of cyber crime and cyber security from spam, phishing, social engineering, hacking, encryption and password strength. After the training, there are four missions which place you in an office environment with a scripted experience to discover who is hacking the company and how to stop them.
Cyber Detective in action!
On the mission with Tech Ops
The exhibits continued to intrigue us both. She commented that she was so glad that we came here today.
Get the ball through the maze using programming blocks
Secret computer codes - aka QR readers
Before we knew it, they announced the museum was closing in 5 minutes. We made our way back through the main floor and found this binary code maker.
Learning about binary code
Writing messages in binary
My daughter summoned me to go away while she wrote a secret message in binary. Here's what the computer translated her binary code into:
01001101 01001111 01001101 01001101 01011001 01001001 01010011
01010100 01001000 01000101 01000010 01000101 01010011 01010100
(and I promise that I didn't tell her to write this because it makes for a good conclusion to this blog post)
As we drove back home on the 101 through the heart of Silicon Valley, sun setting and rocking out to Taylor Swift's song, Wildest Dreams, I wondered what dreams are now in her head. What will it take for her to become whatever she wants to be? And what will I be able to do between now and then to give her and all young girls a better world.
"You must never be fearful about what you are doing when it is right." - Rosa Parks. #TakingOverTheWorld #IWD2017 #BeBoldForChange #ADayWithoutAWomen #WomenStrike #WomenInTech #STEM
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