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In Praise of Sally Ride and Her Other Contributions to Science

Courtesy Sally Ride Science
Courtesy Sally Ride Science

Everyone knows that Sally Ride was the first American woman in space. But what is not commonly known is how she got there and what she did after that historic trip that has made an impact on middle school students and science.

Ride died of pancreatic cancer yesterday at age 61.

According to a comprehensive obit on NPR, her space career all began with an ad. Ride answered a student newspaper ad seeking astronauts for NASA missions.

After her first journey to space, rather than capitalizing on being an astronaut celebrity, she opted to get middle school students excited about science. She founded Sally Ride Science, an organization that puts out publications on science careers, conducts professional development and holds science camps and festivals.

Sally Ride CEO

Among the pioneering programs the organization created is EarthKAM (Earth Knowledge Acquired by Middle School Students). Sponsored by NASA, it allows students to take pictures of the Earth using a digital camera on the International Space Station.

An image taken by a student through EarthKAM. An image taken through EarthKam.

Try it out and other features on Sally Ride Science. It would be a fitting tribute to this pioneering woman.