Guest Blog: Maya’s Experience at White House Astronomy Night

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By Girl Scout Maya (left in photo)

White House Astronomy Night was an amazing experience. When we got to the White House South Lawn, we were greeted with hot apple cider and got to hear President Obama speak about the importance of science for young people. After that, we rotated around the lawn where we got to see different cool science exhibits that were set up. I looked through a telescope and saw the moon closer than I’d ever seen! We were then able to look hold the oldest rock ever found (4.6 billion years old), and we got to talk to SpaceX about their idea for reusable rockets! My favorite exhibit though was when we got to play with Spheros, which are little round robots you can control with your phone. You can change their color, make them move and even program them to jump! The coolest part about it though was that it teaches kids how to code and you can then change different features of the robot!

While I did love the Spheros, my favorite part of the night was hearing President Obama speak. He spoke about the importance of everyone being educated in the STEM areas. That part of education which is widely overlooked, especially for girls, and it needs to be made a priority in all schools. The president has done a lot to help with not only getting students access to science opportunities, but getting the general public access. For example, he spoke about the opening of eight observatories in his home state of Hawaii. These observatories will be open to the public and will allow everyone to get the chance to view some scientific wonders. While it’s amazing that the whole country is being mobilized to educate about science, more work needs to be done to educate girls about STEM.

Throughout the United States, there is a big stigma around girls who are interested in the STEM fields. For hundreds of years, women and girls have been restricted on the jobs that are available to them. At first they could only take care of the house and then little by little, more jobs became available to them. Now, the next big career field females are taking by storm is STEM. If a girl is interested in pursuing a career in science or math, she has to overcome far more obstacles and social barriers than boys do. Because of that, many girls decide not to pursue STEM which is a shame, because I’m sure they’d be awesome at it! People today need to realize that by limiting the STEM field to mostly men, they are restricting themselves from making many new advancements. Women can contribute just as much (or sometimes more) than men can. By restricting STEM to only men, we are shutting out the potential of having some of the smartest, most influential women help in your field.

As President Obama said in his speech, “We need to inspire more young people to ask about the stars and begin that lifetime quest to become the next great scientist, or inventor, or engineer, or astronaut. We have to watch for and cultivate and encourage those glimmers of curiosity and possibility, not suppress them, not squelch them, because not only are the young people’s futures at stake, but our own is at stake.” Thank you to Girl Scouts for allowing me to explore and investigate different areas of science. Thank you for doing all you can to let me know that it is possible for me to be whatever I want.