Mother-Daughter Bond Strengthened by Science Festival

Mission: For a frazzled and all too busy Gilroy mom who also
works as an IBM manager to take an entire day to spend with her
daughter sharing in the educational activities of a Science
Festival.
Mission: For a frazzled and all too busy Gilroy mom who also works as an IBM manager to take an entire day to spend with her daughter sharing in the educational activities of a Science Festival.

Mission: For a middle school student by the name of Lea to see just how much fun science can be for girls and know that for today’s women, even the sky isn’t the limit.

Sally Ride, the first American woman to orbit the Earth 22 years ago, has joined forces with high-tech companies to put on Science Festivals all across the United States.

Ride said she’s doing this to encourage girls to take math and science classes, and that middle school is her focus, before high school (when many girls quit taking science and math). The percentage of girls who believe that anyone can do well in math if they try declines from 90 percent to 71 percent to 46 percent, from grades 4, to 8, to 12.

Lisa Ready and her daughter Lea recently attended the Sally Ride Science Festival at the NASA Ames Research Center in Moffett Field.

“We got there and there was this big “street fair” with different activities sponsored by corporations,” Ready said. “IBM had a table where kids could encode their birth date in binary and then make a bracelet with different beads for the binary digits.

“NASA had the Mars Rover Model on hand. They took photos of the kids, which were then printed onto a NASA photo, so they could see what they’d look like as astronauts. The U.S. Navy provided a jet fighter cockpit for kids to sit in and explore.

“The Red Cross demonstrated a portable defibrillator. It was easy for the kids to learn how to use it because the machine talks to you and instructs you with phrases like ‘Please stand away from the body,’ before it sends out electro-shocks.

Google had an interesting application called GoogleEarth.com, which has satellite pictures of the world. You can focus in on your own house, and then fly somewhere else.

“There was an interesting oceanographer talking about density (did you know diet soda is less dense than regular soda?

A can of diet soda floats, but regular soda sinks), and Stanford brought their solar car there (it can go 200 miles before needing recharging).”

Lea’s favorite activity was a bottle rockets seminar, in which she enjoyed shooting plastic bottles into the air with different amounts of liquid in them.

The kids loved Ride’s stories of space flight (especially the explanation of how the space toilet works), and the fact that she carried M&Ms to eat on the space shuttle.

She introduced astronaut Janice Voss to the kids, science director for the Kepler spacecraft, and both scientists answered many questions from the kids.

Lea will always remember times like this with her mom, and she will know that it was important to her mom to take this time out of her busy schedule and spend it doing something special with the daughter she loves so much.

After a day of enjoying electrical experiments where her hair stood on end, and using Lego Robotics to build and program a small robot, Lea knows that science careers are possible for women and that more women are needed in science for the future well-being of our planet.

Mission accomplished.

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