A group of Nebraska Girl Scouts is one of 10 teams in the country selected to be part of a weeklong intensive space science workshop, “Reaching for the Stars – Girl Scout Astronomy Club Training,” at NASA’s premier research facility, Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.
The exclusive team will have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to connect directly with NASA scientists through lively presentations, hands-on activities, observations with a robotic telescope, lab tours, and outdoor experiences. After the program, these STEM go-getters will bring their new knowledge home and use it to create astronomy clubs in Nebraska.
Each team includes two high school Girl Scouts, a Girl Scout volunteer and an amateur astronomer. The Girl Scouts Spirit of Nebraska team is Hannah Sims, 14, of North Platte; Kate Lembree, 16, of Omaha; Wendy Jamison, a Chadron State College professor and a Girl Scout volunteer and mom from Chadron; and Krista Testin, a planetarium operator for the University of Nebraska at Omaha Mallory Kountze Planetarium and a Girl Scout mom from Omaha.
Hannah has dreamed of becoming a part of an astronomy team since the sixth grade and is intrigued by the mysteries of space.
“This opportunity also gives me a chance of going out of my comfort zone and traveling away from my home,” she added.
Kate’s love of astronomy began when she was 6 years old.
“My best friend’s mother worked for NASA and gave me safety glasses for looking at the sun,” she said. “Since then, there hasn’t been a day that I haven’t wanted to observe the galaxy and everything in it. NASA can provide girls with the dream of a STEM career, but an astronomy club can deliver girls a hands-on experience.”
Girl Scouts are almost twice as likely as non-Girl Scouts to participate in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) activities (60 percent versus 35 percent), and 77 percent of girls say that because of Girl Scouts, they are considering a career in technology.
Yet, women hold fewer than 25 percent of STEM jobs in the United States. Kate thinks it’s is important for girls to explore fields that are typically male dominated.
“Education is the key to changing this statistic, and a trip like this will afford me the opportunity to gather knowledge to share with other girls back home in Nebraska,” she said.