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First Panel: Sally Ride

2009 February 22
by Aline

On Monday, I will be representing Sally Ride, the first American woman astronaut. She was not the first woman in space, since she was preceded by two other women, who were Soviet astronauts. There names are Valentina Tereshkova and Svetlana Savitskaya.  Sally Ride was born in Encino, CA (near LA) in May of 1951. She attended an all female highschool. Her parents were very encouraging of her education. They tried to make learning fun, and they also, supported her in her love for sports, particuarly tennis.  When she became a nationally ranked tennis player, she dropped out of Swarthmore College to persue a tennis career. She realized soon after, that she was not going to be a professional tennis player and enrolled at Stanford University.  She has said she was always good at Math and Science and that her parents encouraged her by subscribing to science magazines and getting her science books. For her undergraduate degree she double majored in Physics and English. She has stated that she needed English to balance herself.  She ended up earning both her masters and Ph.D from Stanford. It was when she was working on her Ph.D, that she saw an advertisement in the newspaper, seeking applicants for the space program. They were looking for physicists and engineers, so she applied. Out of 8,900 applicants NASA picked 35, and out of those 35 6 were women. On June 18, 1983 she was the first American woman in space on the Space Shuttle Challenger.  She was also the first to use the robot arm, she had helped to develop to retrieve a satellite. Following the Challenger III’s accident in 1986, she was named President of the committee of investigation. When her astronaut career eneded, she became a professor at the University of California. (A typical astronaut’s career is 7 years.) Today, she is President and CEO of Sally Ride Science, a company she started, that encourages Math and Science in upper elementary and middle school girls. She has also written 5 children’s books on space. The company has also founded the “Sally Ride Science Festival,” which travels all over the country. It features workshops for students given by locals, who work in the Math and Science fields. In addition, there are workshops for teachers and parents on ways to support students, particuarly girls in these subjects. There is also, a street fair with booths, hands-on activities, food, and music.  I just wanted to share with everyone, who Sally Ride is and her affect on gender and technology. Sally Ride Festival

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