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I’m Wired for Science


By Shannon McClintock

June 2005

Lawrence H. Summers, the president of Harvard University, recently sparked controversy
when he suggested that women lack the ability to excel at math and science. Shannon McClintock, 15,
of San Diego—the 2004 grand prize winner in the sixth annual Discovery Channel Young Scientist
Challenge—responds:


So some bigwig from Harvard tells the world that girls just aren’t wired to be scientists. Well, the
boys better watch out, because there’s a new generation of girls ahead—ready to take comments like these as challenges and to show what girl power really can do. I am one of them.


Growing up, maybe I wasn’t like every other girl. I had Barbies, but I also had Lincoln Logs and Legos.
When I was 4 years old, I built arches and ramps with square blocks.


My parents and some excellent teachers were my best mentors. They taught me to question why things
are as they are. But, like most of the girls in my classes, I started to lose interest in science by middle school. Then I got into my science fair project, “The Little Engine That Could, which dealt with giving train tracks extra traction. I started winning competitions, and this little engine didn’t stop after that first hill. I went as far as the Discovery Channel Young Scientist Challenge! I—along with 21 other females—was one of the top 40 middle-school scientists in the nation.


We tested Einstein’s theories using a skateboard ramp and lasers, and I learned that science is more
than guys in white coats locked in a lab. I love science and engineering. And I’ll do much more than one
little science fair project—maybe even discover the cure to Alzheimer’s or design a space rover! I’m a
girl, and that’s just how I’m wired.

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