Friday, 20 November 2015

An Interview with Laurie Wallmark

laurie wallmark childrens book author
Laurie Wallmark
Laurie is a published children’s book author and recently wrote a beautiful story about Ada Lovelace, thought to be the world’s first computer programmer. We met Laurie a month ago, thanks to modern technology, and asked her to do an interview. She is a biochemist and information systems consultant by trade, and now share those skills and experiences with young people through children’s books and teaching computer science.

Laurie’s recent book, Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine, is beautifully illustrated by April Chu, and tells the story of this young pioneering woman, an inspiration to many pursuing a dream in computer science.



Laurie Wallmark will be touring our blog in December and tell us more about her book Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine. The second Tuesday in October is Ada Lovelace Day but her actual birthday is on the 10th of December.

We are thrilled to share our interview with Laurie Wallmark with you.


How did you get interested in computer science?



I’ve loved math ever since I was a girl. For a class project in eighth grade, a built a model, from a kit, of a simple computer. Even though it only three bits, the Digi-Comp was still capable of addition and subtraction. It introduced me to the logical way that computers “think,” and from then on, I was hooked on learning more about computers. The summer after tenth grade, I had the opportunity to take my first programming class (FORTRAN). Here’s where I discovered how much fun it is. You get to be a detective by following clues to solve software problems.

Would you agree that science and art have been separated in recent history? Are they coming back together?


I do think that the great divide between science and art is growing smaller. There is more appreciation of the inherent value of both fields. Scientists now create beautiful works of art. Think of the amazing colored photographs from the Hubble telescope. And artists use technology to produce their works. In my own book, Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine, April Chu drew the illustrations in pencil, but colored them using a computer.

What technology do you remember from your childhood?


In high school, I did science using the height of technology--the slide rule! Though calculators had been invented, they were much to expensive for the average person to own. Computers were massive and took up an entire, climate-controlled room. Today’s phones have significantly more computing power than these early computers.

slide rule analogue computer
Slide Rule

What advice do you have for parents of children in the tech age?


I think today’s parents need to encourage their children to embrace technology, but not be consumed by it. Children should not just use tech, but also create it.

What would Ada Lovelace be doing if she was alive today?


Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine 
Ada would be thrilled by how easy it now is to interact and exchange ideas with others using technology. Even though she was often confined to her sick bed, today’s Ada would be able to collaborate with scientists from around the world. I imagine Ada would continue with her math studies and create marvelous inventions. She would mentor young people and encourage them to love STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) as much as she did.

We look forward to host Laurie Wallmark on her blog tour in December.

Image Credit: Wikipedia & April Chu


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Comments:

Kim P said...

Great interview, Laurie! I love the answer that children shouldn't just use technology but create it!

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