STEM at Aerospace Museum: We Did Do It!Sep 30, 2022 12:00AM ● By By Ruth N. Morse
Girls from the region's school districts attended the 2nd annual STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) 'We Can Do It' day on Saturday, September 24, 2022 at the Aerospace Museum. Photo courtesy of Karen Jones/Aerospace Museum
MCCLELLAN, CA (MPG) - The Aerospace Museum hosted its second annual STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) ‘We Can Do It’ event on Saturday, September 24, 2022. The co-chairs Heidi Sanborn and Linda Martin put together an experience meant for girls in junior high and high school. The program encourages them to consider studies and careers in math, science and engineering. Specializing in aerospace technology from multiple eras, the Museum is uniquely situated to provide this.
Statistically, girls participate in STEM endeavors less than boys. Twenty-six percent of STEM participants are female. The program leads interests in such areas as robotics, space and many other math-based careers. Also offered are the satisfaction of career choice as well as challenges in scientific and intellectual pursuits of all kinds. For the intellectually curious, these paths are not only personally rewarding but also beneficial to a technologically based society.
The Aerospace Museum called on Rosie the Riveter as a mascot for the Saturday event. During World War II, women became involved in assisting the Allies by working in factories. Iconic views of Rosie the Riveter appeared on t-shirts worn by volunteers, attendees and staff. They also sported red scarves with white dots following the female factory workers of the 1940s.
A story about women who broke ground laying the foundations for the U.S. space program became famous recently in the movie Hidden Figures. The Museum is currently working on a mural featuring famous women in the history of aviation. Also prominent on the museum floor is a display highlighting women historical figures in science and math.
Spearheading the Saturday encounter were two co-chairs, both highly passionate about students becoming involved in STEM activities. Linda Martin is the Museum Board’s President and was formerly an Assistant Supervisor of the San Juan Unified School District, one of the Sacramento area school districts and located nearby the museum. She feels strongly that girls should be exposed to science and math so that doors can open, and women can enter careers in the field. For this, role models and mentors are needed.
Heidi Sanborn is the other co-chair of the event. She is an elected official on the SMUD Board. Her other passion is waste and recycling. She was instrumental in getting California State SB 54 passed which will aid in achieving zero carbon in packaging by 2030. As the daughter of a chemist, she was inspired to look into a STEM career herself and has been challenged and inspired by it. She wants the community to know that STEM activities at the museum are monthly and a strong focus of the facility.
San Juan Unified School District partners with the Aerospace Museum. As a great illustration of support, girls were bussed from various junior high and high schools to attend the event. The busses were packed with girls representative of the cultural diversity in the Sacramento region. They visited the planes, used program passports to show their viewing of various displays and connected with career mentors. On the lighter side, snacks were enjoyed, pictures with friends were taken, a few stepped into cultural dance steps as the disc jockey played lively and cultural tunes with a beat around and had pictures taken, generally enjoying themselves. The general atmosphere was both entertaining and educational.
Volunteers and staff are an integral part of the venue on special days like ‘We Can Do It’. Phyllis Caesar, a former principal in SJUSD, was enjoying her first volunteer event at the museum. Liz Stowell, a passionate STEM advocate, has been at the museum for quite some time. She began as an air traffic controller in New York and then went on to work with high voltage power grids. Her father was a pilot and bomber in World War II, so she has had an interest in aviation for a long time.
Elliot Lopez entered into the spirit of the day by sporting the bandana and t-shirt. He has been part of the educational support staff at the museum for a few months and loves his job there, as do many of the other enthusiastic staff.
A panel of speakers took the stage in the afternoon to discuss their careers and interests in STEM and hopefully inspire others to participate in like pursuits.
Since the museum does not receive local or state funding, it relies heavily on its support partners and Saturday was no exception. SJUSD paid for and provided the busses for enthusiastic junior high and high school students. SMUD brought giveaways and information. The Girl Scouts, a local robotic team, and volunteers from St. Francis High School in Sacramento also participated.