Tuesday, September 17

Sally Ride to speak at festival


Astronaut's club brings interactive science fair for girls to UCLA

UCLA will welcome the world’s first female astronaut and
open its doors to nearly 1,000 girls, boys and parents as the Sally
Ride Science Club kicks off its 21st science festival on
Sunday.

Dr. Sally Ride, who was part of the 1983 and 1984 Challenger
expeditions, will present a keynote address and oversee the event
designed to encourage young participants to pursue interests in the
sciences.

The festival will blast off at 11:30 a.m. with a street fair at
the base of Janss Steps, featuring hands-on exhibits sponsored by
local and national organizations such as the California Science
Center, the Brown Foundation, the Aerospace Corporation and the
Long Beach Aquarium.

Scientists at UCLA will be contributing to the festival as well,
with exhibits and workshops sponsored by the UCLA Departments of
Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Earth and Space Sciences, and
Astrophysics.

The club was founded two years ago by the former astronaut to
encourage girls to pursue careers in math, science and technology.
The San Diego-based club targets middle school girls in fifth
through eight grade. 

“Our mission is really to make science fun,” said
Kristen Greenaway, marketing and communications director for the
club. 

The children will discover how craters are made by dropping
rocks at different angles into a bin of flour, grind their own
lenses with the help of the Optical Society of America and make
their own comets out of dirt, ice, and liquid nitrogen. 

The L.A. Sidewalk Astronomers will be using their solar scopes
to spot sunspots and will make a telescope from scratch. Other
festival features include an infrared camera, a make-your-own robot
exhibit and a slime booth. 

At 12:45 p.m., Dr. Ride will give a presentation in Royce Hall,
in which she will show slides from the space shuttle Challenger and
answer questions about what it is like to live in space. 

Children will then choose from among 25 workshops in which they
can meet a female scientist and find out what she does for a
living. Workshop topics include aviation, cosmochemistry and the
ever-popular veterinary medicine. About 18 different sciences are
represented. 

“We’re also working to promote women role
models,” Greenaway said. 

Ciska Kemper, a UCLA post- doctorate researcher in the
astrophysics department, is one of these role models. 

“I like to encourage them to be wondering about the world
around them,” Kemper said. “They should see that women
can actually become scientists.”Â 

Girls who attend her workshop on stardust and meteorites will
learn how she uses infrared light to study the formation and
evolution of stardust by tracking changes in stars as they flicker
and die. The girls will also get to handle real meteorites from the
UCLA Department of Geology. 

“Where I come from the situation of women in science is
much worse,” Kemper said. “There are much more women in
science here than there are in the Netherlands.”Â 

Greenaway affirmed that Kemper is the type of female scientist
the club wants to point out as a role model.

“We want to know what got them there today, what kept them
interested in science,” she said. 

There are even workshops for adults, on topics ranging from
gender equity to science resources for young girls, and from
hands-on science in the classroom to the poetry of the
universe. 

The festival is open to the public, with local outreach
targeting girls’ organizations such as the Girl Scouts.

“But boys are also invited,” Greenaway said.

Participants pay a fee of $18 for an advance ticket to the
festival, and $25 for a walk-in ticket, with all funds going toward
festival and club expenses, Greenaway said.

Girls who attend the festival will also have the opportunity to
sign up to be members of the Sally Ride Science Club at a discount
price.

To find out more about the Sally Ride Science Festival or to
volunteer for the Nov. 2 festival at UCLA, contact Kristen
Greenaway at (858) 638-1432 or send an e-mail to
[email protected]

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