NASA’s new virtual mentoring program is helping girls get excited about careers in science and technology by working one-on-one with agency professionals.
Twenty-one girls in grades 5-8, representing 12 states from New York to Hawaii, have completed a pilot mentoring program called NASA Giving Initiative and Relevance to Learning Science.
NASA GIRLS is the first program to pair up girls with NASA female mentors from the Women@NASA program using online video programs such as Skype and Google Chat. Participants were selected from more than 1,600 applications.
“NASA GIRLS allows young students to work directly with women who successfully have established STEM careers,” said NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver. “The program uses technology familiar to the young generation and allows NASA to share its mission in regions where there may not be a NASA center.”
The mentoring sessions consisted of lessons in science, technology, engineering and math. The last session focused on applying one of the STEM subjects to two real-world events. The girls mathematically calculated the shift of Earth’s tilt caused by the 2011 Japan earthquake. They also computed the volume of SpaceX’s Dragon capsule, which in May became the first commercial spacecraft to deliver supplies to the International Space Station.
The program included hands-on learning. During an engineering lesson, the girls and their mentors were challenged to build a robot hand or a Wright Brothers’ model airplane while virtually connected.
NASA GIRLS aims to use commercially available technology to provide convenient and meaningful mentoring in STEM subjects to inspire young girls to learn how science and engineering can help them reach their goal of making the world a better place. Recent data from the Girl Scouts Research Institute shows that female mentors are important when young girls decide to pursue advanced math and science courses. Many of the NASA GIRLS mentors offered their mentees guidance after the program, potentially forming long-term relationships that could help young women make decisions about college majors and career choices.
NASA will evaluate the results from the pilot year of the program to offer a larger group of girls access in the second round. To learn more about the program, visit http://women.nasa.gov/nasagirls.
Women@NASA is a continuing, joint effort by NASA and the White House Council on Women and Girls to relate STEM fields to young females.