Midterm Exam for Women in Computing History

A copy of the midterm exam is below. The midterm exam will be your sole assignment for this week–there will not be any readings or lectures this week (March 20-28) in order to allow you to focus completely on the exam.

The exam will be due by Sunday, March 28th by 11pm CT. Instructions about how to turn it in are posted below.

The midterm exam consists of three parts. To complete them, I would like you to imagine that you are talking to a friend or family member who works in a STEM field, and is skeptical about the value of a class on women in computing history. With this in mind, I would like you to write a three part essay that does the following:

  1. Discuss 2 or 3 of the most interesting histories that you’ve learned about in this class so far, giving details, dates, and specific examples. Be sure to break this part up into different paragraphs–you don’t need to put all your examples into one long paragraph! As a reminder: whenever you start a new thought, argument, or example, that’s a good sign to put in a paragraph break. (250-450 words)
  2. After you do the above, explain why someone should care about this history. If your friend or family member heard what you wrote in part one, and then said, “ok, that’s interesting, but so what? Why does someone in STEM need to know that?” what would you say to them? Again, be as specific as possible in stating your reasons & give specific examples to illustrate your points. (150-250 words)
  3. Finally, imagine one or two creative ways to convey the history of women in computing to an audience or group that doesn’t rely just on telling them things or asking them to read articles or books. How might you do this? If you wanted to make one specific part of the history you’re learning in this class into “common knowledge” what part would that be, and what technique(s) might you employ (or suggest someone else employ) in order to do that? Feel free to get creative with this part, and again, be as specific as possible in describing what you’re trying to teach and what kind of format or technique you might use. (150-250 words)

This exam should be your own independent, individual work. Please do not collaborate with others. You may use your own notes, as well as the readings and other materials from our course website, but you should not use any other resources unless the exam explicitly states for you to do so. Please do NOT use Google, Wikipedia, or other web resources for this exam. The emphasis should be on showing off what you’ve learned from the course materials so far, and how you would synthesize this knowledge to try to have a meaningful conversation about the history of women in computing with someone who did not really understand the importance of the topic.

When you are finished with the exam, pass it in as a comment on this post, the same way you did with your last essay, by Sunday, March 28th by 11pm CT . As a reminder: please LEAVE AN EXTRA LINE of space (hit ‘return’ or ‘enter’ twice) after every paragraph, because this system strips out indents and your paragraphs will run together in one solid block of text if you don’t leave an extra line. Your paper will not be visible as a comment immediately after you post it because I have to read and approve them.

Because this website, unlike our class discussion board, can be viewed by anyone on the web, I will only make your post visible if you give me permission to do so–please let me know in your post if you do or don’t want me to make your post visible online. As a reminder, you can choose any pseudonym for your screen name–you do not have to use your real name. Just make sure to enter your IIT email address (it won’t be publicly visible) so I can tell who you are and give you credit for your work.

Annie Easley of NASA shows a young visitor a display on alternative energy.

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