Fifty-one high-achieving elementary and middle school girls traveled in August 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 Cal State Long Beach (CSULB).
The girls came from lower-income families and attend schools 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. Dryden is NASA’s primary center for atmospheric flight research and operations.
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.
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. 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,” said Lily Gossage, director of CSULB’s Engneering Recruitment and Retention Center and Coordiniator for Women in Engineering Outreach.