California State University, Long Beach
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COE and CLA Send School Girls to Visit NASA Dryden Center

Published: September 15, 2010

Fifty-one high-achieving elementary and middle school girls traveled on Aug. 27, to the Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base in the Mojave Desert, hosted by the College of Engineering (COE) and the College of Liberal Arts’, Center for Human Factors in Advanced Aeronautics Technologies (CHAAT) at CSULB.

The girls came from lower-income families and attend school in Long Beach, Torrance, Gardena, South Gate,
Huntington Beach, Lawndale and Downey. They joined other young women from throughout Southern California in attending the culminating event in NASA’s new Summer of Innovation (SoI) initiative, said Lily Gossage, director of CSULB’s Engineering Recruitment and Retention Center and program coordinator for Women-in-Engineering Outreach.

Dryden is NASA’s primary center for atmospheric flight research and operations. “NASA Dryden offered this trip to encourage young students to learn more about the research that goes on behind the scenes when it comes to what NASA does,” Gossage said. “Oftentimes, students see the tangible results of what engineering does, but they don’t often appreciate the amount of work that the engineers and scientists do behind the scenes.” Although CSULB’s SoI participants are all girls, the NASA SoI project provides stimulating math and science-based education experiences for middle school girls and boys as well as teachers.

NASA logo

Participants came from two activities hosted this summer by CHAAT and the College of Engineering — the Engineering Girls Internship, a one-week campus residential program for eighth-grade girls held in June; as well as the NASA Learning Experience, where CSULB sent 30 fifth-grade girls to Cape Canaveral, Fla., at the end of July. In addition, applicants to the two programs who weren’t selected were invited to the Dryden event.

NASA paid for transportation, T-shirts and lunch for the students and their adult chaperones, Gossage said. The day-long event included “the release of a weather balloon, directing sonic booms toward the hangar where the participants will be, allowing two of our girls to provide maneuver commands to pilots in flight, and other cool activities and demonstrations,” she added.

–Anne Ambrose