Encourage STEM and Watch Girls Achieve their Dreams

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Al Chen, MSL Flight Dynamics and Operations Lead and Betina Pavri, System Engineer for Mars Science Laboratory Discusses Curiosity Engineering During Nov. 2011's NASA Tweetup

Al Chen, MSL Flight Dynamics and Operations Lead and Betina Pavri, System Engineer for Mars Science Laboratory Discusses Curiosity Engineering During Nov. 2011’s NASA Tweetup

During the wee hours of August 6, I was curled up on my sofa with CNN on my television and NASA TV on my iPad, waiting for Curiosity, the Mars rover, to land. More than eight months prior on November 26, 2011, I had the honor of participating in a NASA Tweetup (now NASA Social) to learn more about the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission then watch Curiosity launch atop a rocket.

Rover Xing Sign - Autographed by Bill Nye, the Science Guy

Rover Xing Sign – Autographed by Bill Nye, the Science Guy

If Only I Had…
NASA Tweetups taught me with determination and a vision anything is possible. C’mon, they just landed something the size of a small car on Mars that’s beaming back images daily and will be conducting tests to determine if there are the elements conducive to life. Freakin’ awesome!

Growing up I was always told I could be anything I wanted but always put parameters on what I could do with my life. I didn’t know how to dream big, or at least, I didn’t know how to achieve my big dreams. I was (and still kinda am) afraid of failing and disappointing those close to me. Learning from NASA scientists, engineers, astronauts, social media staff and others associated with the space agency, I have a better understanding that failing is OK. Setbacks happen and as long as you learn from them, you can move forward to achieve your goals.

My bachelor’s degree is in earth science. At the time (1992) I had no idea what I could do with it other than teach so after college, I sort of gave up on pursuing a career in a science-related field. Working in national parks fulfilled my curiosity and appreciation for science but in some ways, I feel as though I took the easy road into the tourism industry.

Don’t get me wrong, I make a decent living and I’ve had amazing opportunities but when I hear what cool things agencies as NASA, SpaceX and even the NOAA are doing, a part of me wishes I was part of it.

During my formative years and particularly in college, I wish I had a mentor to encourage, guide and inspire me rather than do things out of fear. Lately, I’ve contemplated going back to school to brush up on science and pursue a career in scientific journalism. Am I too old? Maybe. Or maybe not.

Atlas V Rocket in Background, Radioactive Warning Signs Foreground, MSL NASATweetup, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., Nov. 25, 2011

Atlas V Rocket in Background, Radioactive Warning Signs Foreground, MSL NASATweetup, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., Nov. 25, 2011

Taking the Intimidation Out of Math
Yesterday on CNN (or HLN) I heard an interview with Danica McKellar, a three-time New York Times bestselling author, actress (she played Winnie Cooper on The Wonder Years), internationally-recognized mathematician, and math education advocate, discuss her latest book, Girls Get Curves: Geometry Takes Shape. Her books are geared at empowering girls, addressing teenage issues and making math less intimidating. McKellar talked about her initial fear of math and how a teacher stepped forward to encourage her which eventually led to her success in the subject. These math books sound great for my niece.

If you have a girl or young woman in your life who has an interest in science, technology, engineering or math (STEM), go ahead and show your support for her. Encourage her to dream and accomplish anything she wants, no matter how far-fetched it may seem.

Below is an info-graph demonstrating the current status of girls in STEM.

Additional Reading
“The Women in the Blue Shirts Who Dare Mighty Things”, Forbes.com, Aug. 6, 2012, Tara Tiger Brown,

“Meet The 6 Amazing Women Of NASA’s Mars Curiosity Mission”, The Grindstone, Aug. 6, 2012, Ruth Graham

Women @ NASA

Girls in STEM
Created by: AccreditedOnlineColleges.org

FTC Disclosure: This post contains an affiliate link with hopes of supporting my traveling habit.

Author: Solo Travel Girl

Originally from Buffalo, N.Y., a hiking trail led Jennifer Huber, aka: Solo Travel Girl, to a career path in tourism. She has worked in the tourism industry for more than 20 years including 10 years with a park management company in Yellowstone, Death Valley and Everglades National Park. She currently lives in Southwest Florida, and maintains this travel blog with the goal of inspiring others to travel alone, not lonely.

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