Girl Power: Back to Space at GEMS

I pulled into the parking garage and I could immediately feel the energy. There were girls and moms carrying sleeping bags everywhere I looked. They had just spent a night at the Houston Museum of Natural Science with their Girl Scout troops. I saw girls of all ages practically bouncing, ready to go back into the museum. I walked up the stairs with my tri-board, excited to meet up with Audrey Scott, my fellow Back to Space Ambassador, and set up our Back to Space booth to show the girls.

Lisa Alexander and Audrey Scott at the Back to Space booth!

Girls Exploring Math and Science (GEMS) is an annual event hosted by the Houston Museum of Natural Science. It is an opportunity for different companies and organizations in the Greater Houston Area to come and showcase what they do. They do this to show the young Girl Scouts and other members of the community what it really means to work in STEM. GEMS also exposes these girls to the different opportunities that await them. This was my second year hosting a community booth, and I was excited to see what it would bring.

The clock struck 9, and the girls swarmed into the Great Hall excited to see what this year had in store for them. Many of them were drawn to our table by the flashing lights on our tri-board, thrilled to see what all the fuss was about. That’s what immediately stood out to me: their curiosity. We could see it in their eyes as they searched for answers. They had so many questions and kept wanting to learn more. We had a lot of shy girls and I loved how often the shyness just melted away as they immersed themselves in the activity I had planned.

The activity was based on the two topics of our booth, the Apollo program and constellations. The girls got to draw out their own constellations, and we saw all kinds of designs, from zodiac signs to names. They could also design their own lunar colonies.  While the girls were getting artistic and creative, they were also learning about space. It was great to see how interested these young girls were in what lies beyond our planet. When asked, many of them even said that they wanted to be the first girl on Mars. I felt inspired by seeing girls of all ages becoming more and more interested in space and STEM in general.

One thing that really stuck with me was the need for events like these. While the girls were creating their constellations and lunar colonies at our booth, we played a little game of Apollo trivia. It was surprising to see the range of what these girls knew about our country’s space history. I was inspired to see how much of our space culture lives on today in Space City. We met girls with all kinds of connections to NASA and the space program. Some had visited the Johnson Space Center and some even had family that worked there. Through this event, over 2,000 people, including many young women, got an inside look at the careers they could pursue one day. The variety of booths gave the girls a better idea of what it really means to be a woman in STEM.

Post by Lisa Alexander

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