The Girls Taking Up Space mission is to expand the opportunities and future educational and career goals for Native American girls by immersing them in the horizon-broadening Space Camp experience, and to then have the chance to expand and become mentors for others like themselves through the exposure of leadership and team-building activities.
Our goal is to create knowledge about STEM, to cultivate critical thinking skills, and to transform the potential of girls’ lives by maintaining an interest in STEM throughout the critical middle school years.
The Girls Taking Up Space sent three Pascua Yaqui Tribe girls to Space Camp at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama in June 2017. Due to the success of our program we are doing it again in June 2018. Our goal is to continue this successful mission.
There is a serious educational deficit in retaining middle school girl’s interest in STEM and STEM-related areas throughout our nation. This is particularly true in underrepresented populations where this deficit is even greater.
We believe to keep girls interested in STEM we must instill confidence and self-esteem, while providing unique STEM experiences and opportunities beyond the classroom.
The five day immersion at Space Camp focuses on team building, enhancing problem solving, and critical thinking skills all through many hands-on activities, including amazing simulated astronaut missions. This becomes such a challenging set of activities that it is empowering and life changing. Recent research has indicated that 88% of all Space Camp graduates took more STEM classes and that 71% choose a STEM related career field.
Girls Taking Up Space Frequently Asked Questions:
What is the purpose of the program/project?
The purpose of the program is to send Native American girls to Space Camp at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville Alabama. We believe that giving these young girls this opportunity and exposing them to fun, hands-on experiences will help facilitate a high level of interest in STEM and STEM-related areas throughout middle school and beyond.
What is the problem or issue being addressed?
As reported in a 2014 article by the Girl Scout Research Institute, “Research shows that girls start losing interest in math and science during middle school.” In addition, “Women account for about only 20% of the bachelor’s degrees in engineering, computer science, and physics… Regardless of specific area of STEM, only about 25% of these positions are held by women.” This trend places our nation in an overall reduction in our future science, technology, and educational workforce, where globally the reverse has occurred.
Girls Taking Up Space is designed to remedy and reverse this trend by having the girls maintain an active interest in STEM related areas before they lose their interest in STEM. We believe that by providing extra-curricular activities such as Space Camp, we will not only accomplish this, but will also have an impact on both their advanced academic and future career goals.
What are the goals?
We believe that our talented group of young students have the potential to become members of our next generation of scientists, engineers, and teachers. Our goals are threefold:
i) To expand, pursue, and maintain a STEM interest in their educational and career goals by actively participating in the Space Camp experience where, learning how to work as a team, they experience first hand simulated astronaut missions.
ii) To bring the unique Native American perspective, culture, and language to other participating students in order to bridge cultural gaps for greater understanding.
iii) Upon their return the girls will be encouraged to become Ambassadors to their tribe. They will produce a video, will give personal presentations, talk of their learning experiences, and will become mentors to encourage other students to broaden their own educational horizons in the same way.
How will results be measured?
Results will be measured by:
(i) Writing a report detailing the experience in the form of a journal, paper, or daily diary to be presented to the classmates and the Tribe.
(ii) A follow-up repeat attitude survey after the following year concerning attitudes towards STEM and STEM related courses.
What impact will potential funding have on the program/project?
The impact will not only be to the benefit of the girls, but also on their community. Space Camp teaches the girls, above all, leadership and communication skills, skills they can share with their peers and community when they return home. This generates a positive, long lasting effect on the student, their peers, and the community.