Sally Ride Science Showcases Dr. Ride’s Legacy In Education At National STEM Conference
Thirty years ago Tuesday, America launched its first woman into space, Dr. Sally Ride. Dr. Ride captured the nation’s imagination as a symbol of the ability of women to break barriers. She became a role model for generations of young girls who followed in her footsteps—pursuing careers as astronauts, scientists, engineers and other professionals in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math).
“For those of us who witnessed her first mission into space, and particularly for women like me, her flight on the Challenger was both an emotional and pivotal point in American history,” said Sheryle Bolton, CEO of Sally Ride Science.
On the 30th anniversary of Dr. Ride’s flight into space, key members of the Sally Ride Science leadership team gathered in Austin, TX, where the US News STEM Solutions Conference is exploring the opportunities that STEM fields present for students and the nation as a whole.
After Dr. Ride left the space program, she devoted her life to STEM education. The company she founded created one of the first professional development programs geared toward helping elementary and middle school teachers inspire all of their students, including girls and underrepresented minority students, to pursue interests in STEM and STEM careers. Dr. Ride viewed the upper elementary and middle school years as a critical time for teachers to encourage students to become scientifically and technologically literate and to learn more about STEM careers.
It was this same kind of encouragement that Dr. Ride recalled was critical in her own path in science that led her to study physics at Stanford University. “While events would later carry Sally into space and earn her celebrity status beyond her wildest dreams, she always stayed true to her course,” said Dr. Tam O’Shaughnessy, Dr. Ride’s life partner, cofounder of Sally Ride Science and Chair of the Company’s board of directors. “Sally wanted young people, both girls and boys, to see how exciting and rewarding science is, and to learn about the vast variety of STEM careers available to them.”
Last month, Sally Ride was honored by a National Tribute at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC. Recently, Sally Ride Science announced two new offerings to build upon Dr. Ride’s vision for STEM education: STEM Central, a new comprehensive source for STEM information online; and a new interactive edition of the Company’s “Cool Careers in STEM” book series.
“Sally’s mission made the history books, but it was her work with young people that helped spark the renewed interest in STEM fields that we see at the conference this week. The goal of this conference and our work at Sally Ride Science is to elevate the importance of STEM education and engage more and more students in these exciting fields.” said Bolton.
(Photo of Sally Ride provided by NASA)