She Space International: Program at Texas Tech encourages young girls to get involved in space science
LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Texas Tech University is encouraging girls as young as 14 to get involved in Space Science through She Space International. The Lubbock program is the only one in the United States. Its leaders say it gives girls a hands-on learning experience and a glimpse at what their future could look like in STEM.
Shimrit Maman, Senior Scientist and Director of the Earth and Planetary Image Facility from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel, created the international program. She visited Texas Tech campus over the weekend to encourage young girls in the Lubbock area.
“I could explain to the girls that six years ago we launched the satellite, but when I come here with the model itself and they understand how small it is and how cool it is, and then they could really relate to what we’re discussing. And when they see the images that we provide from that satellite and now they see it in real size, they understand what we’re actually doing,” Maman said.
Eight countries around the world participate in the educational program for girls 14 to 16 years old. Maman created the program after researching for a satellite project and noticing she was consistently the only female scientist in the room.
“By increasing women and increasing diversity, everything becomes more productive and more efficient, and we get more viewpoints and different ways of thinking,” Maman said.
The program is in its third year in Lubbock. Each year girls complete a 6-month study, working to answer a question related to climate change within our borders.
“She Space is a program that encourages girls just to try. You don’t have to, we don’t make them do anything. Just come and try, experience what it is to be a scientist. Come and join us for interacting with international groups. Come and try and we do our best to make it really fun,” Maman said.
Assistant Professor of Atmospheric Science Karin Ardon-Dryer helps guide the students as they work with cutting-edge satellites used by NASA and the NOAA.
“They get to do real research studying dust in our area here in West Texas, using a satellite that we have, NASA satellite, NOAA satellite. So, they get to learn and actually do research just like any other scientist would do,” Ardon-Dryer said.
Amarachi Uche-Eboh, a sophomore at Talkington School for Young Women Leaders, participated in the program two years ago. Now, she’s serving as a student mentor.
“She Space International has been a breakthrough for me. I’ve gotten so many connections. I’ve gotten to meet girls around the world and dive into an all-female environment and it’s comforting to see females, high female leaders scientifically, and it inspires me to one day be in that position,” Uche-Eboh said.
The program runs from February to June every year.
Ginger Kerrick Davis, a Texas Tech alumna and regent for the university system, recently retired after working for NASA for 30 years. She became the first female Hispanic flight director in the agency’s history in 2005.
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