Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Still making a difference... people you once knew but have probably forgotten: Where are they now?

Sally Ride, Ph.D., professor of physics (Space Sciences) at the University of California at San Diego (currently on leave and running her own company.) Her interest is encouraging elementary school students to study science, and her company Sally Ride Science (which she founded in 2001) creates entertaining science programs and publications for upper elementary and middle school students, with a particular focus on girls.

"There were a lot of preconceptions back then. I think that, whether in sports or whether in career choice, there were definitely preconceptions that girls didn't participate in sports other than swimming and tennis and golf. They probably didn't like them, or they would probably get hurt playing them or something, and that women didn't go on to become lawyers or doctors, much less scientists or engineers, and my parents, I think, were unusual in that they didn't hold those preconceptions.

"... History and English were difficult for me, science and math were easy. I was a quiet kid when I was growing up, and so I didn't really like to be called on in class. I think that my most stressful moments were probably sitting in class, huddled down, hoping that the teacher didn't notice me and call on me. Whether I knew the answer or not, that was irrelevant."

[Doctor Ride was the first American woman in outer space. (1983, aboard Challenger; and again in 1984, also on Challenger.) She has over 343 cummulative hours in space.]

Fun facts about Sally:

1. She answered a NASA advertisement for astronauts, along with over 8,000 other people. They picked her.

2. Her doctorate is in Astrophysics. She is smarter than even Relax Max.

3. She dropped out of college at Swarthmore to pursue a career in professional tennis. It took her 4 months to realize her mistake.

4. She helped design the mechanical arm on the space shuttle which puts satellites into space.

5. She served on the investigating boards of both the Challenger and Colombia disasters.

6, She has written 5 books for children on the subject of space exploration.


  1. It is SO very good to hear that Sally Ride is encouraging young children to study science. I spent years working in an organisation that tried to encourage students to follow careers in engineering and science, but by the age of 16 it was too late. You need to get them young, very young. The one aspect nobody seems to address, is that science is part of our everyday life, and you don't need a degree in astrophysics to be interested.

    There are quite a number of different organisations and individuals working towards the same goal. It would be quite good to see some concerted effort, rather than all of them going off in slightly different directions.

    As for me, I wanted to be an astronomer when I grew up. I'm still living in hope. On both counts.

  2. So what exactly is Max smart about in particular? (Disclaimer, this comment is in no way sarcastic.) Science isn't really my strong point, so good on her.

  3. ummm..... I wanted to be a writer.But in reference to your post, Sally Ride is (Was?) an inspiration to many people, even today. Definitely someone not easily forgotten.

  4. Ok, blogger is irking me no end. This is the third attempt at this comment.

    We know Sally Ride really well around here. (No, I don't know her personally, though I know several astronauts and ex-astronauts). She's an inspiration to all of us women in science.

  5. Blogger is definitely acting up this morning. I've always admired Sally Ride.
    To learn about this is amazing:
    "I was a quiet kid when I was growing up, and so I didn't really like to be called on in class. I think that my most stressful moments were probably sitting in class, huddled down, hoping that the teacher didn't notice me and call on me. Whether I knew the answer or not, that was irrelevant."
    That was me all over. There, of course, the resemblance ends. I was an English major. The only thing I can do with astrophysics is spell it.

  6. Great to get this type of info on a person like Sally and it is wonderful to see that she is helping children.

    This was also my 2nd attempt to get to comments.

  7. You are not by any chance Rastafarian by any chance are you Max? Please see my place for the reason I ask ...

  8. Jesus Canuck. Don't make me read that whole post of yours. No way I am going to spend that much time on your blog. Especially the way you spell. Don't you fuckers have schools in Canada?

    Okay. Obviously you are not going to let this drop. I will return later. This had better be good.

  9. @Canucklehead - Ok, Back. No, man. Not me. Probably just you writing to yourself. Weird, though, if true. He did use the word "whilst" though, so that means it isn't an American anyway. It was probably you. Except that it was spelled correctly.

    You did hit the nail on the head when you said your blog wasn't good enough to attract a real fan. Especially one who thought it was funny.

    Hope your dopehead writes back and that he is still alive. Wish I could help you more.

  10. @A. - I think that is really cool, too. An astronomer? But you will never grow up. :)

    @Alison - I dunno, actually. I wish you hadn't asked that. Now I feel really bad about not knowing anything useful. I liked Chemistry. I wasn't very good at it but I liked the fires in the lab part. And the acids. But not very useful if you turn out to be a writer and a stock trader. (I was going to tell you to bite me until I read your disclaimer. But I would never do that. I only thought it, so it doesn't count. :)

  11. Was the professional tennis a mistake, or was it the dropping out of Swarthmore? Just curious, for various reasons...

  12. @Petra - Good to see you back after so long. Sally Ride? Who is she?

    @Stephanie B - Blogger has been acting up for 3 days now and have lost followers and now they have changed the widget to that other kind I didn't want. On the plus side, blogspot is free. :)

    I wish I new more about you. Perhaps I will read more of your blog. :)

    @Janet - I'll bet you were smart. I remember your type. :)

    @Frostygirl - i agree wholeheartedly. She is an inspiration. Thanks.

  13. @Lidian - Sometimes it is difficult to know if you are serious. Heh. Tennis. She tried really really hard but after 4 months she realized she was not at a professional level. She was VERY good, though.

  14. Smarter than even Max?!?!?!?!? How is this possible. She is an inspiration that girls can do just about anything. Except father a child. If they were really born a girl and did not just have parts sewn on.



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