Today we would like to highlight an important woman in STEM: Maria Telkes, also known as the “Sun Queen”. She was a Hungarian born on December 12, 1900 in Budapest who became a highly respected figure for her focus on solar energy.
Throughout her career as a physical chemist and biophysicist she invented many devices based on solar energy and is best known for her inventions of the solar distiller and solar powered heating systems. Before her solar years, Telkes had an interesting background. Having graduated from the University of Budapest with a BA in 1920 and a PhD in 1924, she landed her first job as an instructor at the university.
Later, Maria decided to immigrate to the United States and soon after obtained a position as a biophysicist for the Cleveland Clinic Foundation. Telkes worked with American surgeon George Washington Crile, to invent a photoelectric mechanism that could record brain waves. That same year Telkes received her citizenship and became a research engineer at Westinghouse Electric where she would begin developing instruments to convert heat into electrical energy.
It was not until after that she began her true research on solar energy. Telkes began her research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as part of a team where they developed thermoelectric devices powered by sunlight but was soon transferred to the US office of Scientific Research and Development. Here Telkes created her most important invention for the Navy, a solar distiller, a mechanism capable of evaporating seawater and condensing it into drinkable water. Telkes devoted her career to working with solar energy, creating various inventions that would help thousands of people. Until the end of her career, Telkes would develop solar energy applications and received several patents for her work.
At a time when it was rare for a woman to pursue a career, let alone in science, Maria was a trailblazer who left an indelible mark in her field. Additionally, she is inspiring because her career path shows that one’s focus and areas of interest can change over a lifetime and isn’t set in stone.
This blog was written by Amy M. from FTC team 15333. If you are interested in blogging for FIRST Ladies, click here to sign up on the schedule!
While performing outreach during the COVID-19 pandemic has been a challenge, our team has found it beneficial to focus on planning and preparing for future events during this season. Usually plans are made closer to the event, so we hope that our proactive attitude this year will help everything go more smoothly later. Here are some ideas that our team has come up with.
For starters, our robotics team has an annual summer camp where we teach younger kids STEM related activities. These activities can range from creating geometric art, to building structures out of household objects, to learning about simple coding. All of these activities are facilitated by robotics team members and mentors that aim to spread the message of FIRST and encourage younger kids to learn about the STEM field.
Additionally, we have begun to brainstorm some ideas for virtual activities so that we can communicate with our local community by zooming with local elementary school classes. We also have thought about reaching out to our local libraries and science centers to see if they would be interested in collaborating with us. Readers - what virtual activities have worked for you?
Finally, we are currently planning activities for our local cadets and juniors from girl scouts. These activities will be geared towards completing and receiving the badges for robotics and coding.
This blog was written by Amy from FTC team #15333. If you are interested in blogging for FIRST Ladies, click here to sign up on the schedule!
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