The new pandemic world order, which is keeping us all at home, and kids learning at a distance, has inspired a beneficial mutation of one of our most popular Women You Should Know editorial features. Starting today, select stories from our weekly Women In Science (WIS) column will be transformed into superfun video shorts, done puppet theater style by a talented father-daughters trio. Combining education with entertainment, the WIS Puppet Theater series gives young learners a chance to know some of the many pioneering women in science whose stories are untold, fading or altogether erased. First up… G.O.A.T. Astronomer Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin (1900-1979), the first person to announce to the world the stuff of the stars.
Each Puppet Theater episode is written, filmed, produced and edited by our brilliant Women In Science columnist, Dale Debakcsy (he’s also a teacher, author, and artist). The look and feel have what Dale calls a “DIY anarchic vibe”. He explains, “I thought about the sort of videos my daughter likes watching, about how she’s much more interested in things that look like normal people made them instead of things that look like they’ve been professionally produced.”
Each woman’s story is acted out and told by Dale his older daughter, Anna-Sophia, and younger daughter, Arabella, through paper doll puppets, all illustrated by Dale. As for the sets, our resident champion of women in science and preserver of their stories shared, “We had a fun time raiding Barbie playsets for props including some of my wife’s old things from the 80s that some viewers might see and have fond memories of.”
In this first episode of the Women In Science Puppet Theater series (click image above to watch), Dale, Anna-Sophia and Arabella bring Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin’s story to life. Spoiler alert: Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin advanced astronomical theories on the basis of overwhelming data, only to back away from them under pressure from her superiors, her insights only being ultimately validated later (often much later), when male researchers came to them independently. If the video short leaves you wanting to know more, read Dale’s Women In Science column feature on Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin here.