A waterless urinal, left, is shown next to standard urinals at the University of Michigan engineering building, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2017, in Ann Arbor, Mich. The waterless toilet is connected to a collection and filtration system which is part of a multi-state project researching the conversion of human urine into fertilizer. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

To Pee or Not to Pee; or, Just Drop Back And Kick, It’s All Physics to the Boys

Tes (UK) is a digital education company with a claim to provide “educational materials, jobs, news, and courses from, and for, the world’s best community of teachers and school leaders”.   An article, published September 15, seems to contradict this statement. Overall summary of the article: since boys have penises and can play pee-games, girls are disadvantaged and perform poorly in physics.

“Playful urination practices – from seeing how high you can pee to games such as Peeball (where men compete using their urine to destroy a ball placed in a urinal) – may give boys an advantage over girls when it comes to physics.”

Laughable, yet pitiful to contemplate that these authors consider projectile motion pee is a key advantage to understanding physics.

This, plus the male-dominated blah blah blah repressive-to-women spiel, the authors surmise, also contributes to girls’ lack of interest in physics (and to a lesser extent, other STEM [science, technology, engineering, mathematics] fields).

The rationale and data pertaining to a person’s interest in physics, or science in general, have been presented ad nauseam. Caveat (disheartening to need to reiterate this): these are generalizations, and cover the majority of the bell curve. As in any type of data discussion, there are exceptions. Girls prefer service-oriented careers that permit flexibility for “life”; be it hobbies, marriage, children, volunteerism, etc. Boys: they tinker, enjoying gadgets and technology, including at home (cars, boats, golf…..).   These normal, acceptable differences translate to typical college majors:

Top 5 bachelor degrees conferred to males (2014-2015), plus the total number of all majors surveyed:

All fields, total 812,669
Business 191,310
Engineering 78,255
Social sciences 68,692
Computer and information sciences 48,840
Biological and biomedical sciences 45,102

Top 5 bachelor degrees conferred to females (2014-2015), plus the total number of all majors surveyed:

All fields, total 1,082,265
Health professions and related programs 182,570
Business 172,489
Psychology 90,755
Education 73,150
Social sciences 70,214

The college major categories are not alarming, nor disturbing. We need people in all of these disciplines, and if there is an interest, then the work ethic and dedication will be high. Motivation will be intense. No need to mess with this.   Note; however, the large difference in the number of girls versus boys in acquiring a bachelor degree. How did we, as a society, get to the point of discouraging boys from attending college? Maybe the presumption that he will be a rapist? A topic for another day…….

How do the authors want to combat this non-issue of the ‘physics-gap’? Football (i.e., soccer to us USA blokes), which isn’t a bad idea, but still narrow-minded:

“The theory that participation in ball sports impacts on physics achievement also suggests that the gap might be reduced by engaging young girls in sports such as football.”

Physics incorporates multiple components, namely motion, heat, sound, electricity, magnetism, and light.  Some physics-based concepts revolve around projectiles that have been thrown, fired, or kicked; like landing a back header Mia Hamm would love, to follow-on the suggestion from these EU authors. In addition, ice-skating is an excellent activity to incorporate physics-based concepts. Ask Tanya Harding.

My sports-related physics education was through my efforts on the track team: shot put, discus, and javelin. Incidentally, anyone who knows how to throw a javelin also knows how to throw an American football, and vise versa. So, get the gals out on the track field. Girls learn physics via slow-pitch softball too; the arc is key. Basic stuff here, folks.

A plethora of additional examples are found inside the home.  The kitchen is the perfect place for physics (and chemistry). I know, girls are not to be in the kitchen for fear of becoming proficient and maybe even enjoying the activities, desiring to provide for their eventual families in the home, while continuing to build their knowledge-base.  In any case…..

Cooking, baking, gardening, canning, freezing, blanching, processing meats, making pasta, etc, are marvelous scientific educational experiences for all people, beyond children. My grandmother, who did not graduate high school, a great stay-at-home mom to 8 kids (Bless her!), was the BEST chemist and physicist I ever met (to this day). Not to mention her business and psychology skills! Who cares that she didn’t know the exact terminology? I didn’t, I was a kid. Her home and farm were her laboratories.  To this day, I can whip up a batch of laundry detergent, and I know what organic gardening is, the real organic.   I can make a darn good batch of homemade remedies for most any ailment. Why does this matter? I have a PhD in biochemistry with a degree in psychology, and I did just fine in physics. Why didn’t I major in physics?   I prefer chemistry. There is nothing wrong with that; boys tend to gravitate towards physics, big deal. Have you heard of James Damore?

As for the penis / pee deal, as a young girl, I modified the game without having to accost a boy, or claim to be one. I milked cows. As a kid, you always try to hit something when milking a cow. Could be your sibling, or a bug crawling around, at least until Bessie becomes mad and Grandpa yells at you since you are wasting the milk. It may not be a self-appendage, but as a kid I was smarter than these authors are now. I used my brain to find ways to learn the same concepts, with different tools.

Isn’t that what science is all about?

God Bless

About the author

Tara Baney

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