Ada’s Ideas

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Ada’s Ideas
Fiona Robinson
Abrams Books for Young Readers
It may come a surprise to young readers of this biographical picture book that Ada Lovelace was the daughter of the poet, Lord Byron and Anne Milbanke a mathematician, and lived in the 19th century. Her parents separated soon after Ada was born and she was never to see her father again. To stop her from becoming anything like her father, Ada’s mother made her follow a strictly structured timetable of lessons: anything imaginative was strongly discouraged.
Despite this however, the young Ada developed a powerful, imaginative streak, partly fuelled by seeing some of the steam-powered machines her mother took her to see in factories …

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She even thought of inventing a mechanical flying horse.
After a period of sickness, at age sixteen Ada found herself thrust into society and that’s how she met the inventor, Charles Babbage who was in the process of inventing the Difference Engine, a machine that would never make mathematical errors.

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A friendship developed and Ada maintained it despite being married shortly after, and thus Babbage told Ada about his new project, The Analytical Engine – the world’s first computer design. It was Ada herself who used her mathematical mind to create the program that would have made Charles’ machine work. She also foresaw the machine’s potential beyond maths believing it could be programed to create music, pictures and words. Although it never was made because of costs, eventually many years later, people came to realise how forward thinking Ada and Babbage were.
With its 3D effect, Fiona Robinson’s collage style artwork is amazing and the whole book is a great tribute to the life of a young woman who refused to be bound by society’s expectations and strictures. What I like most is the way in which it demonstrates so compellingly that no matter what, imagination is behind all scientific and technological discoveries: that, and of course the fact that being a women is not a bar to great scientific achievement.

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Imagination rules: dream high, aim high, believe in yourself; let your mind run free: that’s Ada’s legacy.
An inspirational read and a must for all primary schools.

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