Celebrate Sally Ride Day on May 26 by teaching students about this brave space pioneer and STEM advocate through engaging activities!
Women involved in space-based STEM are starting to be given the recognition they deserve in their rightful place alongside male counterparts. Among the women who paved the way for contemporary female STEM leaders is Sally Ride, the first American woman to fly in space. On June 18, 1983, Ride made her first voyage, during which she operated the robotic arm that allowed astronauts to place satellites in space, according to NASA. After completing a second journey in 1984, Ride left NASA in 1987 to teach at the University of California San Diego and promote STEM among girls. On May 26, engage students with activities to learn about this extraordinary scientist, astronaut, and STEM leader on Sally Ride Day.
1. A Picture of STEM
In 2001, Ride founded Sally Ride Science at UC San Diego, which was then a company that sought to promote STEM education. Relaunched in 2015, it now serves as a nonprofit organization that is continuing the mission through STEM and STEAM education, teacher programs, and online resources. According to the center, viewing the Earth from above while peering out the space shuttle’s window was Ride’s favorite aspect of orbit. On Sally Ride Day, honor her beloved moments in orbit by utilizing the center’s materials for students to relive these times in space through viewing and analyzing some of Ride’s favorite images.
2. Take Students on a Space Mission
Also inspired by Ride’s affinity for viewing the Earth from the space shuttle’s windows, the Sally Ride EarthKAM allows teachers to further immerse students into the study of images using maps, atlases, and weather reports, with the help of the International Space Station (ISS). Teachers must register for a Mission Account, which will also be used by students to participate in related activities. After conducting research, students submit requests for the ISS to take images of their desired locations. Once taken and processed, the images are uploaded to the EarthKAM site and available for students to study.
3. Out-of-This-World Hall of Famers
Of her many accomplishments, one of Ride’s victories was being inducted into the United States Astronaut Hall of Fame in 2003. Ask students to research the guidelines that inductees must meet to be included in the Hall of Fame and additional female astronauts who have been inducted, or up-and-coming professionals who should be considered. Students should be prepared to share their findings with classmates on Sally Ride Day.
4. Show a Movie of Their Peers
Sundance Official Selection 2017 “The Mars Generation” is a Netflix Original Documentary that includes insight from famous STEM professionals including Neil deGrasse Tyson, Bill Nye, and Michio Kaku. The documentary also follows the path of a group of aspiring astronauts who hope to be the first to set foot on Mars. By revealing the excitement found among the next generation of astronauts, who happen to be the peers of their students, teachers can stimulate interest in space exploration, which is integral to observing Sally Ride Day. Run time for the PG-rated movie is one hour, 37 minutes, therefore an in-class screening might require more than a single period.
Until her death in 2012, Ride advocated to increase science and math interest in girls through organizations and efforts that continue her legacy today. On Sally Ride Day, celebrate this leader in STEM and show all students that working hard can allow them to achieve their goals, just like Sally Ride.
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