By Danica Chen, Del Norte High School
The San Diego branch of the All Girls STEM Society expanded to a new library once again as on June 18, it hosted its first event at the Pacific Beach Taylor Branch Library. The event was a variation on their classic aerospace workshop.
"So what do you guys already know about space?" Leona Hariharan, one of the main speakers at the event, asked, before beginning a presentation about the basics of aeronautics, including different parts of a rocket, scientific vocabulary about aerospace, different types of aircrafts, and the history of rocketry.
While speaking about the history of rocketry, Hariharan notably mentioned Margaret Hamilton, a rocket scientist who was crucial to developing the software of the Apollo space program. Along with a biography of her work was a short description of the sexist scientific conditions in her time.
"In the 1900s, it was hard to be a female engineer," Hariharan explained. "People thought only men could do scientific jobs, so women were kept out. It was really difficult to be a woman in science back then."
Hariharan's statement is certainly applicable to today's scientific community as well. For a variety of systemic and societal factors, women only occupy a fourth of all jobs in STEM fields. Although the number is certainly steadily increasing in certain fields, we are still far from achieving an equal ratio of men to women overall.
It is the All Girl STEM Society's goal to fix that as much as it can. By holding regular STEM-based events for young girls to participate in, the organization's members hope to inspire more girls to take interest in STEM and change the world for the better. In a society that often subtly and blatantly discourages women from STEM fields, AGSS hopes to spark their interest for years to come.
After the presentation concluded, activity time began. The first project for the girls was use the knowledge they had learned to build landers that, when dropped from a height, would keep the astronauts inside safe. The "astronauts" were represented by marshmallows, which the girls were lightly advised not to eat until after the dropping. After a period of constructing and adjusting, the girls were ready to present their carefully crafted and creatively designed landers. Although a few lost one or both of the marshmallows inside, many succeeded in bringing their astronauts safely to the ground.
Following a ten minute cookie and banana break, a round of Aerospace Jeopardy was held. The girls were divided into teams of four and competed to get the most points. In the end, Team 3, or, as they named themselves, Team Rocket, won first place with 4,500 points.
Afterwards, time for the second project, a paper rocket, began. The girls colored, cut, and folded their rockets, then lined up outside to be launched. Many soared above the library; some even ended up on the roof.
The day went very enjoyably, and hopefully their efforts to close the gap between men and women in STEM will continue. The next All Girls STEM Society event will be a Robotics Workshop on September 10 at Mission Valley. Check AGSS Dates & Events for more details.