Girls Life Mag: Newest Goal Getter Interview!!

Scientist-in-training Sydney Clark shows the boys how it’s done


Think science is only for nerdy boys? Think again! Meet Sydney Clark, the 12-year-old runner up in the National Middle School Science Competition, sponsored by 3M and Discovery Education.

Hailing from Austin, Texas, this home-schooled chick has always had an interest in science. After watching her favorite program, hit T.V. show Myth Busters, Sydney couldn’t wait to tackle the Young Scientist Challenge. The challenge was to create a video about everyday safety. She decided to focus on the public’s love for anti-bacterial products. “It’s important tostress that hospitals use anti-bacterial products,” she says, “but they make way for bigger germs.” The quirky and fun film took her about a month and a half to create with the help of her mother. With stop-and-go animated film clips and Barbie props, she made her point…and impressed the judges. Soon, she was making tracks through the competition. 

The judges chose a semi finalist from each state, and then the 10 semi-finalists were brought to New York City, where they are asked to conduct live experiments, compete in challenges and complete scientific analysis. 3M provided the finalists with the products that they must use. In one challenge called the Safety and Security Innovation, Sydney took on the task of ATM Security by creating a box made with the world’s most efficient translucent man-mad mirror. The thin reflective sheet not only provides the ATM customer with the ability to see through to the push pad to enter their pin, but it also reflects the image of anyone behind them, keeping their bank information completely safe. 

While Sydney did not snag the coveted first place prize, she says the laid-back atmosphere made the event an amazingly fun experience—“the best time I ever had in my life!” She re-calls the judges and coaching staff being “really helpful, really amazing being around and helping on other innovations.” 

Being a runner-up isn’t without its perks, however. “It’s almost as good as winning,” she says of her prize: Flying to San Francisco to be on the set of a live taping of Myth Busters at the end of June. While she’s not sure if she’ll actually get to be on the show, she’s got her fingers crossed! 

Sydney isn’t a 24/7 scientist-in-training—she’s part of the rock group Unsocialized and has dreams of a film or But she does admit that she’d love to incorporate science in the mix and create a show likeMyth Busters or Bill Nye the Science Guy. Why? She’s ready with an answer: “It’s important to get more girls into science,” she says. “I want to let girls know they can do more in the science world and it can be fun changing the world. We can learn more, do more and reach a lot more people.” 
BY AFIYA AUGUSTINE ON 6/24/2011 8:00:00 AM

Ms. Manners is happening!

Hey guys…definitely haven’t forgot about this Ms. Manners blogging project. As it stands I figure I am going to be doing full length Ms. Manners articles focusing on one topic/subject with occasional “breakouts” which will follow something that doesn’t quite need a full article, or a more in-depth take on a specific rule/regulation.

Girls Life Mag: Shannon McIntosh Racecar Driver

I wanna be…a racecar driver!

Shannon McIntosh, 21, never thought she would be making her living driving a racecar when her dad took her to her first race when she was four. A competitive kid, she began to practice and compete, and by the time she was 10, Shannon was racing against adult men. She’s been racing ever since. Today, she competes in INDYCAR’s Mazda Road to Indy USF2000 National Championship Series. 

We chatted up this ah-mazing automobileracer and got the dish on her dream job. 

What do you enjoy most about racing? 

The competitive nature of it. It drives me to work hard, train hard on and off the track and to be the best. 

What is the most challenging part about racecar driving? 

Believe it or not, people don’t realize that the toughest part about racing happens off the track. Racing is really expensive and you have to get themoney to do it, so during the week I’m always working towards getting sponsorships, partnerships and scholarships to keep competing. 

What’s the best moment you’ve had so far in racing? 

In February, I was signed on to my team, CAPE Motor Sport. It was so hard trying to get everything together and when I got everything on board, it was a great moment because we got people to support us. That was really a great moment for me. 

You’re following in Danica Patrick’s footsteps—er, skidmarks—as the only female driver to advance through the USF2000 National Championship Series. How does that make you feel? 

When I started racing I was completely oblivious to the fact that there weren’t many women in the sport. Just because you’re a girl, it doesn’t mean you can’t compete, especially in a male-dominated sport. Being the only female drive in the USF National Champ Series motivates me more to be much better and to keep competing.

You went to college at the University of North Carolina, but you left before graduating. Why? 

I graduated high school with honors and was working on racing at the same time. I wanted to continue my education, so I went away to college. I went to North Carolina because there’s a lot of racing there, and I did really well my first year at UNC, but my family didn’t really have the money so I had to work [my way through]. And at the same time, I was still trying to do racing. I finally decided that I wanted to put 110-percent towards my dreams, so I left school to pursue racing and I’m so happy about the outcome because I’m doing what I love! 

Did you learn anything in college that you’ve embraced or incorporated into your driving? 

Because of college, I learned how to work with the business side of the industry, but what I took with me the most was learning about myself. I learned how to be an independent woman, which was really important for me because there are so many women out there who don’t know how to be independent and strong. 

You dream of being the first female driver to win the Indy 500. What does that mean to you? 

It’s what I live for. I want to break a barrier for women and show that dedication and hard work is what it’s all about. At the end of the day, I’m a racecar driver, it’s what I do. The Indy is what motivates me to get up in the morning, to show how great I am. 

What is a piece of advice you would give to young girls who are pursuing their dream career? 

Confidence is the number one piece of advice I can give. It’s the number-one thing that can make you successful. My mom said to me, “If you’re notconfident but can fake it, people will believe and soon you will believe it and you’ll become it.” Don’t let being in a “male industry” keep you down. Be the best and give all you can. 

One of McIntosh’s sponsors, Glass Hammer Racing, has developed a program to encourage young girls to get into racing. Check it out here

Learn more about Shannon McIntosh at
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BY AFIYA AUGUSTINE ON 6/10/2011 8:00:00 AM

Catherynn M. Valente’s Best Seller “The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making”

In honor of Ms Catherynne M. Valente’s book The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, I decided to re-post the advice she had given me almost two years ago about being a writer. Congratulations Cat! As I said before, where you are now, is where I want to be in the near future

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making


Some of this story is in my FAQ on my website. Some of it is on my blog. 

I started blogging in 2001. I’ve been at it a long time. I started publishing professionally in 2004, when I was 25. The two feed each other. I worked hard to create an online presence long before I ever wrote a book–I joined communities on LJ, I made friends and linked to them, I posted about topics people wanted to read. It’s always hard to predict what will and will not hit with a blog–but the key is not having it just be a showcase for your writing if you’re not already known for your writing. You have to build a readership who feel like you’re interesting and fun, not just someone selling you something. It’s very hard to build a site just based on fiction without a corresponding publishing career. The Fairyland project is successful because I’ve been publishing for five years with big presses, my books have won awards, I’ve toured nationally, I go to conventions and appear on panels. I’ve made friends in the industry. It’s all a lot of hard work–but if I hadn’t been publishing, no one would care about my free online novel, I promise. Certainly Boingboing and such wouldn’t have picked it up.

So my advice is to keep writing–and do all those things, too. Build a blog based on non fiction and social networking, and then ease your fiction into it. (this is much easier on LJ where you can join communities and be part of a big conversation.)

I’ve preservered because I love writing and believe in my work, and because at times it’s all I’ve had. But in the end, my career has been easier than a lot of people’s–I’m 30, I’ve published a dozen books. That’s not normal. It doesn’t always work like that–in fact it almost never does. 

The other thing I did was write so differently than everyone else out there that people had to notice it. I made myself indispensable, by being the only one offering my kind of books. Don’t lose faith. just think outside the box of posting fiction online and waiting for people to notice. Instead, do something noticeable, then post your fiction. Online books are a dime a dozen–you have to make yourself an interesting draw, and then people will come. You might also consider Clarion or Viable Paradise, and workshop your stories with some top authors. 

I hope this has helped,

I’ve read the book and it’s quite charming. I intend on keeping in my library and giving it to my sister’s children when they get older…so they can know that good fiction still exists for them. Hopefully one day they will be able to read something their aunt wrote, just for them. *sigh*