Sunday, April 30, 2006

Help girls fly (and achieve other fantastic feats) by being a presenter or sponsor at a Sally Ride Science Festival

ABSTRACT - Help wanted: women with expertise in engineering, mathematics, science and technology to lead hands-on workshops for girls and adults at Sally Ride Science Festivals. Presenter roles are pro bono, but high profile. Also welcome are sponsors to send one or more girls to the festivals, educators, parents, street fair exhibitors and other interested adults.
WESTCHESTER COUNTY, NY - Kevin S. Barrow blogged an important announcement in: "Home of the Soul Cookie � Blog Archive � Sally Ride Science Fair [sic] needs presenters." This posting passes it on. Specifically, women with expertise in engineering, mathematics, science and technology are needed to lead hands-on workshops for girls and adults at the Sally Ride Science Festivals, whose focus is:

5th-8th grade girls, trying to get them more interested in the fields of Science, Technology (all forms, inc. Computing), Engineering and Math, since they are so underrepresented in those fields at a professional level.

- Click here to access the source and details for presenters

Also needed are sponsors to send one or more girls to the festivals. The $18 registration fee covers lunch, the street fair, workshops and keynote speech. Street fair exhibitors, parents, teachers and other interested adults are welcome to participate, too. As describes:
The street fair has music, face painters, and about 30 booths and exhibits (for example: making slime, looking through telescopes). Some of the booths have giveaways; there are no vendors, but there is a merchandise booth with t-shirts, books and other items.
Dr. Sally Ride is a former astronaut and the first woman to orbit in space. Biographies such as Pioneering Astronaut Sally Ride: A Myreportlinks.Com Book (Space Flight Adventures and Disasters) by Henry M. Holden describe her exciting and illustrious nine-year career with NASA's highly selective astronaut program. Dr. Ride now serves on the faculty of the University of California at San Diego and heads the California Space Institute. Her concern about the lack of women scientists and engineers inspired her to found Sally Ride Science, whose mission is:

Empowering girls to explore the world of science—from astrobiology to zoology and everything in between!

The home page describes that its mission is accomplished:
Through our innovative science programs and our award-winning science publications, Sally Ride Science informs and inspires year round.
The innovative Sally Ride Science Festivals and other Sally Ride Science Programs (which include Toy Challenges and Science Camps) are not just empowering, informative and inspiring. They are downright fun! Karen Flammer, senior vice president of Sally Ride Science and a research physicist at the University of California, San Diego described to LA Daily News reporter Valerie Kuklenski:

Girls get to see hundreds of other girls spending a weekend day at a festival to do math and science and engineering activities, and it's in the context of a DJ playing music, it's in the context of food." [...] "All the workshops are very fun, hands-on workshops. Somebody's not standing up in front of the classroom lecturing to them. They're actually letting them take DNA out of the strawberry or calculate the density of chocolate, so they can see that science is fun, and they can share it with their friends.

- Kuklenskito, Valerie. "Girl Power. There is chemistry there - and math, physics and biology, too." March 22, 2006. LA Daily News. Accessed online.

Moreover, participation can exponentially expand girls' horizons, overcome peer pressure to "dumb themselves down" and boost their self-esteem. Documentation of a positive correlation between girls' self-esteem and academic performance (click here to access relevant sources) underscores why Sally Ride Science programs and publications are extremely valuable, even for girls who are not going to become rocket scientists. Said Flammer, in the above-referenced article about the festivals:
It certainly isn't academic ability that's causing the disproportionate number of girls and boys (in higher-level science classes)," said Flammer in that same article. "So what Sally Ride Science is trying to do with our workshops, our camps, our toy challenge competition, our publications is we are targeting girls, and we're trying to show them how fun and interesting all these fields are, that you don't have to be this typical geeky male to be a chemist or a biologist or engineer, that other girls also like doing what they're doing.
Adult tracks at the Sally Ride Festivals teach educators, parents and other significant grown-ups in girls' lives how to encourage girls to reach for the stars - no matter what spheres they ultimately land in. Grown-ups can register to hear the keynote speaker and participate in the street fair along with the girls, as well as learn at Discovery Workshops for Adults how to promote gender equity inside and outside of the classroom, and how to help girls benefit from science, math and technology resources. Teachers can also earn professional development credits.
The next Sally Ride Festival will be at the NASA Ames Research Center at Moffett Field on Sunday, May 21. Those interested in participating should contact Jennifer Kremer, Click the following links to access the schedule of upcoming festivals and details about the Toy Challenge and Science Camps for 6th-9th grade girls.

Now that you’ve received this message, I hope that you will:

  • Click the link to read the full text of that message,
  • Spread the word about this and other Sally Ride Science initiatives,
  • Consider presenting at a Sally Ride Science Festival if you're female and one of the above-mentioned fields is your forte (click here for details),
  • Sponsor one or more girls to attend a Sally Ride Science Festival (click here for details),
  • Encourage girls and parents, educators, street fair exhibitors, sponsors and other interested adults to participate.

This piece will also be published at, a sinister cabal of superior bloggers on music, books, film, popular culture, technology, and politics.###