Hertha Marks Ayrton was a total badass. Google just honored her in an awesome way.

Never heard of Hertha Marks Ayrton? That's OK. Neither had I. But let me tell you why I'll definitely be remembering her.

Ayrton would have been 162 today, so Google decided to honor her with a Doodle designed by artist Lydia Nichols.


Image from Google.com

Ayrton was the first woman to present a scientific finding to the esteemed British Royal Society, way back in 1904.

A painting of Ayrton. Image from Mme. Darmesteter/Wikimedia Commons.

This is the same society that heard presenters like Charles Darwin and Michael Faraday (one of the great founders of modern electric knowledge).

Ayrton's work was "The Origin and Growth of Ripple-mark," which helped explain ripple marks, those weird lines on beaches.

Image from Margaret W. Carruthers/Flickr.

If that seems silly, this is no eighth-grade science experiment. Fluid dynamics is incredibly weird and difficult, but Ayrton was a powerhouse of math and physics knowledge. Her discovery helped us better understand how fluids like air and water move, which affects things from water delivery to electric turbine design.

This wasn't Ayrton's only contribution to science.

Image from A. Rintel/Wikimedia Commons.

At the turn of the century, a new form of lighting had hit Britain: the electric arc lamp. The lights were bright and dependable but also had a weird tendency to hiss when they were turned on.

Well, it was Ayrton who figured out what that noise was. In 1899, she presented a paper, "The Hissing of the Electric Arc," to Britain's Institute of Electrical Engineers. She explained that the noise was from craters forming in the lamp's carbon rods. Two days later, they elected her as their first female member.

Unfortunately, the scientific community sometimes tried to hold her back because of her gender.

In 1901, she wrote another paper about electric arcs and tried to present it to the Royal Society. But the society had a man present her work instead.

"An error that ascribes to a man what was actually the work of a woman has more lives than a cat," she once said — a quote that I think might resonate with a lot of other female scientists.

Nevertheless, Ayrton continued to make significant contributions to electrical engineering.

She was never one to let people hold her back because of her gender, though. She was a keen supporter of women's suffrage in England.

A suffrage meeting in England circa 1908. Image from The New York Times/Wikimedia Commons.

She took part in a lot of marches and demonstrations, was a member of the Women's Social and Political Union, and either founded or help lead many other suffrage societies. She also opened her home to women who had been jailed after demonstrations and hunger strikes.

She was also a prolific inventor, and her inventions saved lives in World War I.

Image from Ernest Brooks/Wikimedia Commons.

By the time she died, she had 26 different patents under her belt. In 1915, Ayrton invented a fan that saved soldiers from the poisonous gas weapons of World War I.

Over 100,000 fans were sent to the battlefield.

Hertha Marks Ayrton was an awesome engineer, mathematician, physicist, inventor, and proponent of women's suffrage.

It kind of sucks that more people haven’t heard of her and that we needed a Google Doodle to find out about her. But it's still pretty powerful to see a big, public reminder of the huge number of amazing women who have had an impact on our world.

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On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

Watch the video to see how this experiment plays out.

Oprah's Social Experiment on Her Audience www.youtube.com

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Young people today are facing what seems to be greater exposure to complex issues like mental health, bullying, and youth violence. As a result, teachers are required to be well-versed in far more than school curriculum to ensure students are prepared to face the world inside and outside of the classroom. Acting as more than teachers, but also mentors, counselors, and cheerleaders, they must be equipped with practical and relevant resources to help their students navigate some of the more complicated social issues – though access to such tools isn't always guaranteed.

Take Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, for example, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years, and as a teacher for seven. Entering the profession, she didn't anticipate how much influence a student's home life could affect her classroom, including "students who lived in foster homes" and "lacked parental support."

Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

So what resources do teachers turn to in an increasingly fractured world? "Joining a professional learning network that supports and challenges thinking is one of the most impactful things that a teacher can do to support their own learning," Anglemyer says.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

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