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May 22, 2013

Sally Ride’s Quest for More Female Scientists

Watch Honoring Sally Ride's Legacy as Trailblazer, Role Model on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.

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Sally Ride may best be known as the first American woman in space, but she leaves behind a legacy as an educator and advocate for women in the sciences. Earlier this week, President Barack Obama announced that he would confer the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Ride for her accomplishments.

Ride made her first of two trips into space in 1983 as a 32-year-old physicist. Later, she served on NASA’s investigation boards looking at what went wrong in the Challenger and Columbia Space Shuttle disasters.

Throughout her career, she promoted educational opportunities for young people to engage with science, including putting cameras on the space station so that children can take pictures from space. She focused on creating opportunities for women and girls because of the vast gender gap that exists in technical fields.

Ride passed away last July from pancreatic cancer at the age of 61.

Warm up questions

1. Who are some of the astronauts that pioneered American space exploration?

2. What is NASA?

Discussion questions

1. Why do you think more boys than girls grow up to be scientists?

2. What can we learn from space exploration?

3. How would you decide which scientific programs to fund? Space, health, defense, etc?

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