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02/23/2005 08:00:00

Science Festival Comes to Caltech

PASADENA, Calif. - Girls, let's do launch! That's the way one waggish Florida newspaper headlined a story on the Sally Ride Science Festival, which comes to Caltech on Saturday, March 19. As you might guess, the festival is the brainchild of Ride, America's first female astronaut, and is primarily intended for girls in grades five through eight, their parents, and educators. That age group is a critical time for girls and science, since it's the time when they begin to drift away from their natural interests in science and math. That's a situation that Ride, the Ingrid and Joseph Hibben Professor of Space Science and professor of physics at UC San Diego, has devoted a large part of her life to reversing.

Over the last few years Ride has organized these festivals around the country, attracting hundreds of girls and parents for a day of science, socializing, and fun. Her company, Sally Ride Science, is dedicated to creating events, programs, and activities that support girls' interest in science, math, and technology.

This is the third year the festival has taken place on the Caltech campus. This year, registration begins at 11:00 a.m. The festival runs from 11 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. The $18 advance registration fee ($25 the day of the event) includes full festival participation, souvenirs, and lunch. Girls attending the festival also can join the Sally Ride Science Club for a sponsored rate of $5 for the first year.

Highlights will include:

--A keynote address by Ride describing her experiences in space, followed by a question-and-answer session.

--A "Sour Power" electrochemical engineering workshop.

A biological science workshop called "CSI Los Angeles: A Science 'Who-Dun-It?' " that lets kids become crime scene investigators for the afternoon.

--Hands-on, creative science, math, and technology-related workshops such as "Mystery of Booming Sand," and "A Tumble Through Time: How You Developed From a Single Cell," presented by Caltech faculty.

--A street fair with science demonstrations, entertainment, free stuff, a drawing for prizes, and the chance to meet the former astronaut.

--An opportunity for parents and teachers to participate in workshops on ways to support girls' interests in science and math.

Ride, a member of the Caltech Board of Trustees, became the first American woman to orbit Earth when she flew aboard the space shuttle Challenger in 1983. Her second flight was also aboard Challenger in 1984, and she was training for a third mission when the spaceship exploded shortly after liftoff in 1986. She is the only person to serve on the accident investigation boards for both space shuttles Columbia and Challenger. Ride founded Sally Ride Science to support the large numbers of girls and young women who are, or might become, interested in science, math, and technology. The company organizes events, programs, and activities for girls that empower them, engage them, and encourage their interests. In addition to the festivals, current programs include Sally Ride Science Camps, TOYchallenge, and the Sally Ride Science Club--a national club created to keep middle school girls engaged in science adventures by connecting them to people, information, and attitudes that will nurture their relationship with science. For more information on Sally Ride Science programs, please visit: www.SallyRideScience.com, or call (800) 561-5161. If you would like to volunteer to help out at the festival, send an email to: bears@usc.edu.