By Community Relations Volunteer Southern Van Auken
The doors to NASA’s Langley Research Center were opened to Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast, who were treated to a behind-the-scenes tour of NASA’s world-class facility in Hampton, Virginia on Wednesday, April 12th. In addition to navigating a moon-landing during an exciting STEM challenge, entering an inflatable habitat, and watching engineers at work in the wind tunnel, girls were introduced to another powerful force at work: the women of NASA, most of whom were Girl Scout alumni.
Girl Scouts were mentored throughout the day by inspiring role models, who rather than telling their own stories, turned the spotlight on the girls. Gretchen Edwards-Bodmer, who helped plan this extraordinary event said, “We need more women and girls in STEM.” She is a former Girl Scout Program Director who now works as a NASA Project Coordinator.
Dr. Kimberly Brush, Langley’s Director of STEM Education, told the girls, “Every one of us believes your story could be here, too.” Her sentiment was certainly true for Girl Scout Senior Jocelynn and Girl Scout Cadette Sophie, winners of the “To the Moon and Back” essay contest. Both girls were honored by Lisa Ziehmann, Langley’s Associate Director, who presented them with Space Science badges that had actually been to the moon on NASA’s Artemis I mission.
Kris Brown, Deputy Associate Administrator for STEM Engagement, encouraged the girls to “Be open to possibilities and dream big. The universe is literally out there waiting for you.”
A surprise highlight of the day was a glimpse into the Navigation Center, one of NASA’s creative work spaces, complete with library shelves full of books for researching and white boards for brainstorming big ideas. While the girls settled onto cozy couches, Karen Whitfield, Education Coordinator, asked them about their career aspirations, ranging from medicine to engineering to athletics. A former kindergarten teacher herself, Whitfield informed the girls about the variety of opportunities available at NASA. Her message to Girl Scouts was clear: “There is a place for you at NASA.”
What did the Girl Scouts think of this inspirational event? For Cadette Julianne, the day was a dream come true. “I got to talk to real life geniuses about what it’s like to work at NASA. It was truly the experience of a lifetime,” she said. Cadette Adalyn said, “They really opened us up to the NASA family.” And, Cadette Sophie captured the theme of the day when she said, “Try if you want to because anything could happen.”
View more photos from the day’s events on our Facebook page.
About the Author: Southern lives in Virginia Beach and homeschools her two daughters, who are both Girl Scouts!
Girl Scouts enjoy interactive performances at Zeiders American Dream Theater.
GSCCC volunteers were honored at our “Shine Bright!” awards event on April 22.